Citycell may be shut down anytime

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DHAKA, Aug 1, 2016 (BSS) – Operations of Bangladesh’s first cellular phone operator Citycell is likely to be shut down anytime, as its outstanding dues to the telecom regulator remains unpaid for a long time, official sources said.

The regulator — Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) — is going to float advertisement in media to ask the subscribers of Citycell to get alternative services by August 16.

Talking to BSS, BTRC Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood yesterday said Citycell’s outstanding dues stand at Taka 477 crore.

“Citycell didn’t deposit the outstanding dues even after repeated reminder. So, BTRC has the right to cancel the Cellular Mobile Phone Operator License and Radio Communications Equipment License anytime,” said Mahmood, adding, “We could take final decision for legal action anytime.”

Country’s first and loan CDMA operator has been losing subscribers gradually for last few years and now, its customer base stood at only 700,000 as per the statistics of June revealed by BTRC.

Replying to a query when the operation of Citycell would be stopped, the BTRC Chairman said as per the law “We can cancel the license anytime, but subscribers have to be given time for alternative”.

“We would ask the subscribers by media advertisement to manage alternative services by August 16,” he added.

BTRC officials said Citycell renewed the license of 8.82 Megahertz (MHz) spectrum in 2012, but didn’t pay the second and third installments of airwave fees yet. It owed to the regulator Take 229 crore for airwave fee and 10 crore as annual license renewal fee.

Besides, it has not paid annual spectrum fees (from the year 2013 to 2016) Taka 27.14 crore, Taka 27.84 crore as revenue sharing (2014 to 2016), social obligatory fund (2011 to 2016) Taka 8.92 crore, VAT Taka 39.92 crore and late fee of Taka 135 crore.

Meanwhile, the regulator has served a show-cause notice on the operator for not making the payment.

However, no comment from Citycell could be received as no official could be reached over cellphone immediately.

Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited under the brand name “Citycell” obtained license in 1989 where SingTel Asia Pacific Investment Limited has 45 percent share while Far East Telecom Limited owns 23.57 percent share and remaining 31.43 percent share is held by Pacific Motor Limited.

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