Bangladesh WiMAX winners struggle for cash

Two of the three WiMAX licence winners in Bangladesh, according to local reports, have missed the deadline to pay the full licence fee and are struggling to raise the necessary cash.

The ‘culprits’ are BanglaLion Communication and Mango Telecom. According to the terms of the licence, each has to pay Tk 215 crore (around $32m).

Augere Wireless Broadband Bangladesh, the third WiMAX licence holder in the country, is the only firm that has managed to pay the full amount on time.

The WiMAX process in Bangladesh has stuttered since the licences were first put up for auction in September 2008. In fact, Mango Telecom only acquired its licence after one of the original licence winners, BRAC Net, pulled out citing fears about the WiMAX business case in a toughening economic environment.

In October 2008 the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTCR) extended its deadline to pay the full WiMAX licence fee amount to 90 days from 16th October in recognition of the economic downturn. The regulator suggested at the time that the WiMAX licences would be re-allocated if the payments weren’t met.

There are no signs, however, that BTCR will – or is able – to do this given how much more difficult it is to raise money on the global financial markets.

Each of Bangladesh’s WiMAX licence holders is privately held and can run networks at 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz. According to the conditions set out by the licence, each firm must roll out at least 90 WiMAX base stations across the country.

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