Conducted by Miraj Khaled.
Bangladesh has had a monopoly since 1989. The sector was opened in 1996. The Telecom Act was enacted in 2001. The regulator was established under this Act.
During this period the number of mobile subscribers increased significantly, with a peak in 2006. The fixed phone tariff fell dramatically from 2001 to 2002 and again in 2007.
The number of mobile subscribers seem to have grown exponentially, while the fixed subscribers remain much unchanged. There is a sharp rise from 2002 to 2003, this can be explained by the entrance on Banglalink in 2004 into the sector.
The six main mobile operators are AKTEL, Banglalink, Citycell, Grameenphone, Teletalk and Warid. Grameenphone seems to have dropped from over 70% market share in 2001 to 45% in 2008.
Total investment seems to be stable over the period from 2000 to 2003 (ITU). 2003 to 2004 (ITU) saw a sudden increase in investment which can be correlated to the positive effects on telecom revenue.
Fixed sector: The sector is dominated by BTTB. This would recently restructured and renamed Bangladesh Telephone Company Limited (BTCL).However, a separate company manages the submarine and cable related backbone infrastructure. At present there are fourteen private operators offering services, with seven main operators. They are, BTTB, Telebarta, Ranks Telecom, Onetel, National Telecom and Peoples Telecom.
Mobile sector: The sector has intense competition and this has resulted in the producing some of the lowest tariffs. The state owned Teletalk only has 3% market share. The largest mobile operator is Grameenphone wit 45% market share, Banglalink comes in second place with 22% market share. As of march 2008 BTRC reports that mobile penetration has reached 30%.
Rohan: LIRNEasia does not report mobile subscribers, only the number of mobile SIMs.
Rohan: A weighted average for ARPU would be useful to further analyse the data.
Broadband/ Internet: Internet penetration is very low. Broadband data is not existent. However, there is growing access to internet via mobile. The quality of service also needs to be addressed. Broadband is accessed mainly through ADSL and cable internet. There is no HSPA ( due to the lack of 3G technologies).
Helani: Is there a wireless network providing broadband in Dhaka?
Methodology: sample size was 27, and the overall response rate was 34.6%. The main response mode was through the online survey (13), face to face meeting (9) and Email (5). The desired level of 15 responses per category was not achievable. Category 2 recieved the lowest response. Some dimensions were problematic to the respondents such as quality of service and USO. Operators were not willing to provide data and this required reliance on annual reports of the parent companies. BTRC was not very helpful in this regard either.
Market entry: the fixed sector received the highest score followed by mobile and broadband. In spite of mobile having a relatively competitive market place it receives a low score. Though the broadband sector allows to issue licenses it does not easily allocate spectrum etc ( a problem of access to resources exists).
Access to resources: allocation of spectrum seems to be a serious concern. BTRC has started spectrum farming and hopes to sell spectrum to operators soon. The backbone sharing will be made mandatory for all operators.
Helani: is the rates mandatory as well or can it be negotiated between companies?
Miraj: will look into further information on that.
Helani: Need to focus on what has been done and not what will be done in the future. It is ok to mention them but with a focus on the fact that it is not implemented.
Interconnection: Received satisfactory scores in all but broadband. Interconnection rates and refusal to connect by the significant market player is a major concern.
Helani: why are broadband interconnection scores so low?
Miraj: 2004/ 05 saw part- operation of an internet exchange which many of the big players are connected to.
Tariff regulation: Tariff circuits are in place. In the fixed sector the tariff is set by BTTB and is matched by the other operators. Broadband tariffs are very high even after there has been significant reductions this year.
Anti-competitive practices: There is no action on the part of the regulator to curb the activities of the incumbent. BTRC usually overlooks anti- competitive behavior by BTTB.
USO: no clear directions and guidelines in existing policy. A significant urban- rural gap exists in mobile adoption. Fixed and broadband has larger inequalities. The regulator has now asked for 100% broadband coverage in a period of 5 years.
QoS: Mobile received a reasonably good score even though there have been definite deficiencies. Mobile operators face problems due to the lack of access to spectrum. Fixed sector score represents the QoS of BTTB. The broadband sector received the lowest score out of the entire survey.
Overall, the mobile sector performed the best while broadband seems to have a lot of negative feeling.