Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) today suspended the spectrum of Citycell for failure of outstanding amount virtually shutting down the service of the country's first mobile phone operator.
"The regulator took the move as Citycell failed to pay the outstanding amount as per the directives of the Supreme Court Appealed Division," State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim said in a statement at an urgent press conference at BTRC.
A BTRC official, meanwhile, said a team of theirs went to Citycell office in the afternoon and "took necessary measures".
Tarana said Citycell was supposed to pay the two third of the outstanding amount within four weeks, but its failure to comply with the apex court order forced authorities to take the decision.
Citycell has owed to the government of Taka 477.51 crore since long as spectrum and license renewal fees and other charges.
In line with the apex court decision the operators was required to pay Taka 318 crore to the BTRC by October 19 but the time limit was later extended for one ore month or the remaining one third outstanding amount.
"But, as the operator didn't fulfill the first part of the judgment of Appellate Division, there is no option for another part of the judgment," said the state minister.
BTRC earlier started the process to shutdown Citycell in August when it asked operator's subscribers to chose alternative services by August 16. Later, the regulator extended time to August 23.
But, the operator again failed to comply with the regulator's directives. Citycell went to the court finally.
After the completion of subscribers' identity verification using biometric system, Citycell has now approximately 150,000 active customers.
According to BTRC, the Citycell didn't pay the second and third installments, in combine Taka 229 crore, for 8.82 megahertz spectrum since spectrum renewal in 2012, which has breached the licensing terms.
Besides, it has owed of annual spectrum fees (from the year 2013 to 2016) Taka 27.14 crore, revenue sharing (2014 to 2016) Taka 27.84 crore, social obligatory fund (2011 to 2016) Taka 8.92 crore, VAT Taka 39.92 crore and late fee of Taka 135 crore.
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 hold by Pacific Motor Limited.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)