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3gThe prime minister has approved auctioning the third generation or 3G mobile licenses. The government’s next step is to allocate radio frequency or spectrum in 2100 Megahertz (Mhz) band for 3G mobile services in Bangladesh. It is imperative to segregate fantasy from the facts of the 3G services.

The term “3G” was coined by the West Europeans during late 1990s. Those governments bagged billions of dollars from auctioning 3G licenses and the industry went bankrupt. We must avoid that catastrophe.

Raw material is vital for every business. Spectrum is the mobile phone industry’s critical raw material. Network manufacturers produced 3G equipment only for 2100 MHz during the dawn of mobile era.

Eventually they developed 3G hardware for 2G spectrum (900 MHz). This evolution has revolutionised the regulators’ mindset. Licensing barriers between 2G and 3G were removed. That is called technology neutrality. And the countries that have not adopted it are lagging behind.

Let’s put a perspective to it. Fixed-phone operators don’t pay premium licensing fees while replacing copper cables with optical fibre. Similarly, mobile phone operators should be allowed to offer all services using their existing spectrum. It injects competition, and the consumers get new services at an affordable price. As a result the industry fiercely competes on quality front.

Mobile has excelled beyond merely a phone. Policy certainty and regulatory predictability are fundamental precondition to its achievement regardless the services are offered through 2G or 3G technology.

The government should fix it first.

Abu Saeed Khan is a former Technology Editor at bdnews24.com, and currently serving as secretary-general of Association of Mobile Telephone Operators in Bangladesh (AMTOB).

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