Global Cell Giants to Capture Bangladesh Market

Posted on October 12, 2004  /  12 Comments

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



  1. im a gp user.. I1ve been using cellphones from 2000. I can`t wait to see this upcoming great c0mpetition between this cell providers.. as a general public of bangladesh and a user of cellphone i would like to see that this great companies will reduce the call rate to a reasonable and affordable price for us.. I would like to tell singtel and orascom about things that i (we) want from them–

    1. call rate below 2tk per minute
    2.pulse from first minute
    3. t&t connection
    4.prepaid system
    5.deadline for 300 tk card at least 30days( which aktel is already giving)
    6.many options for prepaid cards like 50tk,100tk, 150tk,etc(which citycell is already doing)
    7.peak & offpeak system
    8. sms from any provider to any provider
    9. low price of sim
    10. friends & family option(like gp)

    this are the dreams of every cellphone user of bangldesh.. any provider who can provide this options will become the market leader within a very short period time i bet.. i don`t thing beating gp is a very hard thing.. they are actually sitting inside a glass room .. they are the only option for rural people of our country who are the first users of cellphone.. target them.. not the urban people.. they just want to get rid of gp..Good Luck for orascom and singtel.. Tanim

  2. Mobile operators 5 just suppressing us here in Bangladesh.. we welcome your battle against those….. i agree to tanim but i want 1 mor thing…. Friends and family service should be cost free…

  3. This came on BBC sometime back, say around Dec 2004. It illustrates the situation In India:

    Indian mobile phone users have outnumbered fixed-line customers for the first time, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The number of mobile phone subscribers grew by 1.4 million to 44.9 million last month, overtaking the 43.9 million registered land line users, TRAI said.

    The surge in mobile users reflects highly competitive tariffs offered by Indian operators.
    Some Indian mobile companies offer call rates as low as two US cents a minute. “This unprecedented growth has been due to the fact that the mobile tariffs in India are the lowest (in the world),” TRAI said in a statement. The latest figures bear out TRAI’s prediction in May that mobile phone users would outnumber fixed-line subscribers by the end of the year.

    Mobile services have expanded dramatically in many developing economies, with consumers by-passing slow state-run fixed-line operators to sign up for cheaper cellular services instead. However, fewer than five in 100 people own a mobile handset in India, compared with penetration rates of well over 50% in most European countries.

  4. Hi guys,
    I’m a Bangladeshi and mobile phone user. We thought that the call rate will be reduced and reseanable after entering of Orascom and BTTB mobile phone into market but in the real, we see the call rate is not reduced. Actually, every operators are like as “Blood sucker”. Our government does not working for this matter.

  5. It is, indeed, a pleasure to know that, all the cell phone giants have targetted bangladesh as their targetted market. but we hae observed that, they are not doing anything which might go infaour of the users, except reducing the price of simcards. i, therefore, would request all these compnaies to:

    1. reduce the call charge.
    2. increase the serice quality.
    3. particiapte in the social services
    and 4. develop the system of customer identification in such a manner that, the user, if commits any crime by misusing the cell phone, can be grabbed.


  6. Dear readers and commentors,

    In this capitalist world, the big companies are flocking to Bangladesh to put share in our bloods sucked out – not to make you and me healthy and wealthy.

    Competition is only a farce. In reality its monopoly of few giants who are too big and with whom public doesnt have any negotiation power.


  7. What is so great about BTTB keeping Bangladeshis on endless waiting lists and giving them poor service? Almost all the connectivity for people has come from companies with foreign investors. In the first nine months of 2005, Bangladesh almost doubled the number of mobile phones, from 3,760,210 at the beginning of the year to 7,388,590 at end of September.

    I guess it’s easy to make the anti-capitalist pontifications sitting in Finland (I assume?), where a phone can be had for the asking and it’s assumed that every phone allows one to call every other phone in the country (none of these statements hold even for present day Bangladesh, despite limited foreign participation, because the government is too inept to let a competitive market function).

  8. Dear readers,
    There is no doubt that standard of living of people in Bangladesh is improving. The introduction of cell phones in this community has a great influence on this context. Anyways the call tariff scenario has quiet changed in 2007, but still it is not as desired. If we compare the tariff plans of Indian cellular companies, then we are still a way back in this bussiness. It seems that the current cellphone service providers are concerned more about business revenue than consumer satisfaction. Standing on the current situation I think the competition among the service providers in the market is not adequate. So a few more International service providers should start their operation in the market. Who would care more about the consumers than their very own personal revenue. We also wish that the existing companies would also reduce their tariff and prove that they are not as bad as blood suckers. Good luck…….

  9. Dhaka–Chittagong– Cox’s Bazar fibre-optic cable, which carries a huge bandwidth data to the international network, has been severed at least for five times since August, 2007 . The cable has been cut for about 30 times since 2005.

    This is the Reality Check for BTTB. Do we need BTTB anymore to maintain SEA-ME-WE4 undersea cable & Dhaka–Chitta- gong–Cox’s Bazar fibre-optic cable ?

    It failed 100%

    Contrast this with Sri Lanka and Pakistan, which have had problems only once each in the past five years. Redundancy is a key question for Bangladesh and BTTB.

  10. Frequent fiber cuts will hamper our Productivity in the ICT industry. And it will deter any western companies to even consider Bangladesh as an IT destinations, like India, Philippines etc.

    For the success of our countries, young IT industry to prosper, It is imperative that we have multiple redundant Highspeed Internet routes. It is very normal to have fiber cuts, as we see in the US, However, it is the ability to do immediate reroute of the traffic, without any disruption of service to the users, is what is important.

    I hope the current Govt takes this very seriously and take steps to ensure our countries connectivity to the world remains open with more Internet connectivity. This Gov’t has a unique opportunity to make a difference for this sector, for which they will leave a legacy, for which Bagladeshi’s will be eternally thankful.


  11. Earlier this month, Bangladeshi authorities ordered Internet Service
    Providers (ISPs) to provide them with a complete list of Internet
    subscribers and their confidential data in order to profile the
    country’s Internet users.

    According to the blog E-Bangladesh, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and
    the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) wanted
    names, addresses, connection and usage details and server passwords
    among the information requested.

    Members of RAB and BTRC also began searching homes with high-speed
    Internet connections.

    The lists and searches are all part of the Bangladeshi government’s
    crackdown on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) operators that began
    in December 2006. The government considers their businesses illegal
    based on the Bangladesh Communications Act 2001. In July 2007, RAB
    seized VoIP equipment and arrested two employees from Westecs
    Bangladesh Ltd. This month, BTRC fined Banglalink for providing VoIP

    But according to Global Voices Online, a non-profit global media
    website, the crackdown is partly motivated by declining revenues at
    state telecommunication company Bangladesh Telephone and Telegraph
    Board. Small VoIP operators have proliferated in the absence of
    regulations and offer cheaper services. Global Voices also suspects
    the Bangladesh government is trying to eliminate the competition
    before it grants VoIP licenses to four operators.

    A senior BTRC official speaking on condition of anonymity with E-
    Bangladesh, however, couldn’t explain why “regular home users” were
    included in the VoIP crackdown.

    In a BBC Bengali report, translated into English by E-Bangladesh,
    international law expert and Catholic University of Brussels law
    professor Ahmed Ziauddin said, “This issue is alarming… [Because]
    BTRC is not clearly saying what they will do with this information. ..
    Section 43 of the Bangladesh Constitution provides [a citizen] the
    privacy of his correspondence and other means of communication. .. It
    appears that BTRC’s actions are violating this provision.”

    Bloggers are outraged and concerned. Mashuqur Rahman, who is also a
    contributor for E-Bangladesh, wrote in his blog that bloggers have
    filled the void of mainstream media in critically discussing the
    government’s suppression of civil liberties. He believes the Internet
    subscriber list will be used against bloggers.

    “The goal of the military government appears to be both to monitor
    Internet activity in Bangladesh and to intimidate Internet users and
    bloggers into silence.”

    Interviews with ISP officials and a BTRC memo leaked to E-Bangladesh
    confirm that all 72 ISPs in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet must also
    install RAB “traffic scanners” on gateway routers and provide each
    subscriber’s Multi Router Traffic Grapher URL user id and password,
    which easily allows monitoring of Internet usage.

    http://www.asiamedi article-southasi a.asp?parentid= 80516

  12. In this context Article 47 and 144 of Bangladesh Constitution may be abolished as both are conflicting with Government Policy of Free Economy and Democracy.