Four mobile-phone operators have shown “positive attitude” towards merger of Robi and Airtel, BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood has said.“All the operators are of the view that a merger will benefit consumers. All of them spoke in favour of the merger. No one has opposed it,” Mahmood told journalists after a meeting with the four operators on Monday.To discuss the merger, the BTRC on Sunday sent letters to the chief executives of Grameenphone, Banglalink and Citycell, and managing director of Teletalk.Accordingly, Banglalink’s CEO Erik Aas, MD of Teletalk Gias Uddin Ahmed, Grameenphone’s Head of Corporate Affairs Mahmud Hossain and a representative of Citycell attended the meeting.Terming merger a “complex issue,” the BTRC chief said, “There are some technical issues. Spectrum is one of them. After the merger, Robi-Airtel will have more spectrums.”At present, Robi has 19.80 MHz of spectrums while Airtel owns 20 MHz. After merger, they will together own 39.80MHz.Currently, Grameenphone owns 32 MHz of spectrums – the highest among all operators.“The prime objective of (Monday’s) meeting was to find out what the views of other operators are and what will be the impact of the merger on them. All of them showed positive attitude,” Mahmood said.
According to him, there will be public hearing on the merger proposal and also discussions in the commission, on the views expressed by the four operators, on Feb 17.“BTRC has constituted a high-level committee, which will incorporate all these issues and place it before the commission,” he said.A senior BTRC official, who was present at the meeting, said though the four operators were positive about the merger, they wanted commission to clarify its position on certain issues.They mainly wanted to know whether the auction of unused 2G and 3G spectrums would be held before or after the merger, said the official who did not want to be named.The BTRC told them the merger and auction process would “continue simultaneously.”The four operators at the meeting also raised the issue of “a level playing field” and “keeping balance in allocation of spectrums”.The parent companies of Robi and Airtel signed an agreement on Jan 28 for the merger. After the deal, they said the new entity will operate as Robi.After the merger, their combined customer strengths will increase to around 40 million, which is one fourth of Bangladesh’s total mobile-phone subscribers.Grameenphone, with 50 million subscribers, is the country’s largest operator.Robi and Airtel began merger talks in September last year.Malaysia-based Axiata Group Berhad owns Robi and Airtel is the subsidiary of Bharti Airtel Limited of India.