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B'desh shuts down oldest mobile phone operator Citycell

by October 21, 2016 General

Press Trust of India  |  Dhaka

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has shut down services of the country’s oldest mobile phone operator Citycell, snapping its spectrum after the company failed to pay outstanding dues it owes to the authorities.

“BTRC ( Telecommunication Regulatory Commission) has shut down Citycell’s operations and suspended the spectrum since it failed to pay the dues,” State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim told reporters last night at a hurriedly called press conference.

BTRC suspended the Citycell spectrum, resulting in the closure of the services of the country’s first mobile company which introduced the cell phone in in early 1990s.

Halim’s comments came hours after a BTRC team accompanied by police and anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) went to the operator’s headquarters at the Pacific Centre at Dhaka’s Mohakhali area to shut down its operations.

On Wednesday, Citycell paid Tk 1.30 billion in dues, contradicting with the regulator’s estimate of Tk 3.18 billion the company needed to pay as the first instalment to avert the closure.

The apex court had directed the operator to pay in first instalment two-thirds of the outstanding amount of Tk 4.77 billion in dues by Wednesday, but the company paid only a portion of the money.

Halim said Citycell was supposed to pay the two thirds of the outstanding amount within four weeks, but its failure to comply with the apex court order forced authorities to take the decision.

BTRC earlier started the process to shutdown Citycell in August when it asked operator’s subscribers to choose alternative services by August 16. Later, the regulator extended time up to August 23.

“But, the operator again failed to comply with the regulator’s directives. Citycell went to the court finally,” a BTRC official said.

According to the BTRC count, Citycell had 150,000 active customers.

Citycell had launched its operations in 1993 using CDMA technology as the first mobile telecom operator while its subsequent proposal to move to the widely-used GSM technology was rejected by BTRC on the ground that the company had a huge amount of dues.

According to the company’s website, Singapore’s SingTel owns 44.54 per cent shares of Citycell while 37.95 per cent belongs to Pacific Motors Ltd and Far East Telecom owns 17.51 per cent stake in the company.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)