DHAKA, Oct. 10 (Xinhuanet) — The global cell phone giants are eyeing Bangladesh as the potential market in Asia and planned for huge investment to capture it, operators said. Aminur Rahman, head of corporate affairs department of AkTel, aventure of Malaysian giant TM International Limited, told Xinhua Sunday that AKTel, which is already in the market but going slow, “has started the battle of wining the market.” “Our company wants to give a boost in the market share,” he added. Rahman said AKTel has launched a 30-day pre-paid card as a first step in it’s bid for clients hunt.
Orascom, the Egyptian giant, has planned to pump 200 million USdollars in Sheba Telecom of Bangladesh, also a low flying mobile service in Bangladesh. And Sing Tel, a Singaporean company, has set it’s foot in Bangladesh to come up in the market with 200 million dollars worth of controlling stake through the City Cell of Bangladesh which is the first cell phone operator in the country, but now ranking second.
Cell phone operators see a fierce battle ahead among the operators in Bangladesh as they have readied their guns to pound the citadel of Grameen Phone, the late comer, but captured most ofthe current market with its share of 2.1 million users.
“Both Sing Tel and Orascom are famous for their aggressiveness.Things can change next year with coming of these companies in Bangladesh,” Sawkat Mahmud, one of the advisers to the City Cell phone service, told Xinhua. “We want to break the dominance of Grameen Phone (GP) in the market,” Mahmud said.
The global cell phone giants want to raise the number of mobilephone users in Bangladesh from the current 3.3 million to 12-15 million with the potential to woo as much as 2 billion dollars investment within the next three years, a study of GP noted. The battle among the operators began in August last as Orascom came up to save the ailing Sheba for 60 million dollars.
Orascom has already submitted a 200 million dollars investment proposal next year to the Board of Investment of Bangladesh. Shawkat Mahmud said Sing Tel and Reliance had been holding talks with the Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited to purchase off the majority share of City Cell. But Reliance has abandoned its plan leaving Asia’s one of the biggest telecom players Sing Tel togo ahead with the negotiations. Sing Tel is now nearing on a controlling stake at PBTL, Mahmud said, adding they are having talks with Sing Tel.
Bangladesh now has 3.3 cell phone users. Of this the GP shares 2.1 million or 62 percent of the market share. Aktel has 800,000 users. But City Cell, the first phone company to come to the market, is lagging behind with around 330,000 clients, and Sheba has 60,000 users. Seeing a fierce fight ahead, the GP has planned to splash out aseries of packages from next month and revising its investment plans to stay on the top. Enditem