Spectrum auction conditions discriminatory: GP Chief

The government policy for the upcoming spectrum auction is discriminatory as it will bar leading mobile phone operator Grameenphone from participating in the auction, GP chief executive officer Rajeev Sethi said on Monday.

gp chief
Grameenphone chief executive officer Rajeev Sethi speaks while announcing the mobile operator’s financial statement of 2014 at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the capital on Monday. — New Age photo

He said the government was planning a spectrum auction of 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands later in the year but the draft guidelines of the auction seemed to be creating uneven business environment.

‘We feel that the conditions set for the auction is discriminatory as it will bar GP from participating in the auction,’ he said while announcing the company’s financial statement of 2014 at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the capital on the day.

GP has more than 5 crore subscribers and as per its current spectrum holding it needs more for better customer service, Rajeev said.

‘If you consider the spectrum holding and subscriber ratio, then GP doesn’t have more spectrum than other companies,’ he said.

A longstanding dispute over SIM replacement tax could not be ended through an administrative process and the row went to the court again, Rajeev also said.

‘Before the 3G auction in 2013 the industry was assured that the SIM replacement tax issue would be solved in the administrative process but unfortunately there is no positive progress in the matter,’ he said.

GP made profit of Tk 1,980 crore in 2014, witnessing 19.3 per cent growth from previous year’s Tk 1,470 crore profit.

GP board of directors has recommended 160 per cent cash dividend — 65 per cent final and 95 per cent interim — for the year ended on December 31, 2014.

The company reported Tk 14.67 earning per share for 2014 compared to that of Tk 10.89 in 2013 and the net asset value at Tk 23.23 compared to that of Tk 23.06 in the previous year.

GP chief financial officer Dilip Pal said a 50 per cent rate cut of the international incoming calls put a dent on the fourth quarter business of the company.

‘The results could have been better. But following the call rate cut in the international incoming call termination, we faced a dent in revenue. The volume increase in legal calls could not compensate the huge cut in rates,’ he said.

The auction conditions are set with a provision that any operator having more than 20MHz spectrum in the GSM band will not be allowed to take part in the auction, BTRC officials said.

At present, GP has 32MHz spectrum, Teletalk 25.2MHz, Banglalink and Airtel 20MHz each and Robi has 19.8 MHz spectrum.

-The Daily New Age