GrameenPhone has pushed universal access in India

Posted on November 4, 2006  /  2 Comments

Dhaka, Nov 3 ( – GrameenPhone’s coverage beyond Bangladesh’s boundary has forced the Indian government to deploy cellular mobile network in the neglected northeastern states, reports Kolkota-based The Telegraph Friday.

The Indians along the Bangladesh border in Meghalaya and other north-eastern states “are forced to use prepaid cards of GrameenPhone, the largest cell phone service provider of Bangladesh, paying ISD call rates.”

People without mobile phones cross the border and use Bangladeshi phone booths and they pay hefty amounts of international tariff to call own country, the report alleges.

Villagers have complained to the Telegraph correspondent that the Indian government does not provide them basic telecoms facilities on the pretext of security.

India’s state-owned telecoms major, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), has now decided to launch cell-phone services in areas bordering Bangladesh soon after receiving the ministry of communications’ written order.

BSNL does not provide mobile phone service in the rebellious north-eastern areas due to Indian home ministry’s objection to deploy the networks within 10 kilometres of border with Bangladesh border, fearing exploitation by the region’s militant groups.

“As long as everybody gets access to some network, what difference would it make whether it is Indian or Bangladeshi?” questioned a senior BSNL official to The Telegraph.

The BSNL’s Meghalaya telecoms district general manager, R Ramesh, said they were hopeful of receiving New Delhi’s nod in “black and white” within a week. “We will start erecting equipment once we receive the green signal,” he said.

BSNL would then commence services in Mahendraganj, Phulbari and Bajengdoba in the Garo Hills. Remaining areas of the state would soon be brought under the new network’s coverage, the Telegraph said.


  1. And now Indian mobile operators are also trying to replicate Grameen Phone’s model in trying to push mobile service in rural areas.

    Mobile operators to replicate `Grameen Phone’ concept

    Thomas K. Thomas, Businessline

    Move to bring mobile PCOs to rural areas

    Singapore , Oct. 18

    In a bid to increase rural telecom penetration, the GSM Association Development Fund is in discussion with Indian cellular operators, including Airtel, Hutch and Idea Cellular to replicate the successful model adopted in Bangladesh by Grameen Phone.

    The project involves setting up GSM-based mobile PCOs and Internet kiosks in rural areas that can be shared by the village community similar to the Government-sponsored village public telephony and Internet dhaba schemes on fixed line telephones.

    Business model

    GSMA Development Fund has already conducted pilots with Airtel and is likely to announce the launch of shared access to voice with Idea Cellular this month. Speaking to Business Line at the 3GSM Congress, Ms Dawn Hartley of GSMA Development Fund said, “We are working with the Indian operators to evolve a business model for the rural areas. We have been able to cut down the cost of setting up such shared infrastructure from $300 to $35 per unit.”

    GSMA fund is using Motorola’s emerging markets handset that costs about $20 and loads software on the SIM that turns the handset into a mobile pay phone. Operators will tie up with local entrepreneurs to offer a `business in a box’ that contains everything required to start a shared access, including the modified handset, solar power-backed charger and training material. The Fund has undertaken similar projects in South Africa, Kenya and Algeria.

    More here:

  2. Someone should bring our research at
    to their attention.

    There is no point in replicating all of the elements of Grameen in a prepaid and low-cost handsets world.