BTRC might suspend Citycell’s operation

New Age Online

citycellThe telecom regulator has decided to cancel the spectrum and radio equipment use permission of the country’s oldest mobile phone operator Citycell for non-payment of dues, and advised users of the brand to find alternative measures by August 16.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission officials said that the commission took the decision as Citycell failed to pay Tk 477.51 crore dues despite several reminders.
The BTRC also issued a public notice saying the operation of Citycell might be suspended at any moment and regretted any inconvenience of the subscribers.
The operator currently has 8.82MHz spectrum in Dhaka and 10MHz outside Dhaka in the CDMA 900 band.
BTRC officials said after the biometric re-registration the operator has around 2 lakh subscribers, most of which are data modem users.
‘As Citycell could not pay its dues after giving several chances we had to take the decision. As per the rules and regulation we are bound to take such decision against any defaulter,’ BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood told New Age on Sunday.
Citycell dues include Tk 229 crore spectrum renewal fees, annual license fee of Tk 10 crore, annual spectrum fee of Tk 27.14 crore, revenue sharing of Tk 27.44 crore, social obligation fund contribution worth Tk 8.92 crore, value added tax of Tk 39.92 crore and late fee of Tk 135.07.
BTRC officials said that the license of the operator might be revoked too, ‘But for that we have to give the company one month notice,’ a senior BTRC official said.
The BTRC, earlier in April, filed a certificate case against Citycell to realise the dues under the Public Demand Recovery Act 1913.
In the petition, BTRC assistant director Hasibur Rahman accused Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd and 10 directors of the company for their failure to pay the money.
As the first mobile telecom operator, Citycell started its operations in 1993 using the CDMA technology.
The operator intended to move to the widely-used GSM technology, but the BTRC rejected the proposal on the ground that the company had a huge amount of dues, said BTRC officials.
According to the company’s website, Singapore’s SingTel owns 44.54 per cent shares of Citycell, Pacific Motors Ltd 37.95 per cent, and Far East Telecom owns 17.51 per cent stake in the company.

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