BTRC Allows Mobile Operators to Pay Spectrum Fees in Local Currency

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The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has decided to allow mobile operators to pay spectrum fees in the local currency, taka, rather than the more costly US dollars.

According to the Daily Star, the BTRC has been considering this issue since August 2023, when it consulted operators on their preferred currency for paying for spectrum acquired during the country’s most recent auction in 2022. In that auction, Bangladesh’s four mobile operators paid a total of US$1.23 billion for 190 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum.

In October 2023, Banglalink, Grameenphone, and Robi responded, expressing their preference to pay in taka. They cited that paying in local currency is standard practice in most of South Asia and highlighted the US dollar’s appreciation against the taka in recent years as a significant concern.

Exchange rate data indicates that one US dollar currently trades at around Tk 117, compared to around Tk 86 in March 2022, when the spectrum auction took place. The strengthening of the US dollar has impacted Bangladesh’s foreign currency reserves, the report noted.

BTRC commissioner Sheikh Reaz Ahmed confirmed to the newspaper that the regulator has decided to grant the operators’ request to pay the 2022 spectrum fees in taka. However, he added, “If specified, the fee will have to be settled on the basis of the dollar rate at the time of payments.”

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