Citycell Archives


Under Sri Lanka’s law, if an operator goes out of business, the Director General of Telecom has to run it. This used to be one of my nightmares. I knew how to regulate, but did I know how to run a company? The Daily Star paints a grim picture of Citycell, a Bangladesh CDMA licensee. So grim that I should feel sorry about reiterating criticism of the discounting of their payments by the government when the licenses were up for renewal.
Market share is never the final determinant of market power. It is used as a screen for further investigation and/or to shift the burden of proof. So, for example, an HHI (Herfindahl Hirschman Index) greater than 1700 or 1800 is triggers anti-trust investigations by the US government in the case of mergers and acquisitions. In the case of determining significant market power in telecom regulation (LIRNEasia is quite skeptical about the value of this approach in developing countries), market shares of around 35-45 percent shift the burden on the operator to prove that it does not have market power (the ability to set and maintain prices in simple language). But in Bangladesh 20 percent market share is the magic number.
When I wrote the op ed that was published in Daily Star yesterday, I did not know the anti-competitive “Market Competition Factor” had been decided. Today’s Daily Star gives the numbers. Looks unusually good for Citycell that not only pays 1/5th the price per MHz that Grameenphone pays but can also make do with less frequencies because it is a CDMA operator. According to the definition of the MCF prescribed by the telecom ministry, if an operator has more than 20 percent market share, it will have to pay additionally, while an operator with less than 20 percent share will pay at a reduced rate. The MCF for Grameenphone now stands at 1.