State-owned telco distributes free SIMs, money be damned

Posted on October 24, 2017  /  1 Comments

When I was working for the government of Bangladesh I was given a free Teletalk SIM. I wanted to use it. Who doesn’t like free stuff? I tried. Since I spent a lot of time at the Secretariat, I managed to actually make some calls. The challenge was finding a place to load some value.

Teletalk back then was the runt in the litter. Undercapitalized, sustained by infusions of taxpayer money, but struggling along. There were patches in coverage, and the distribution network for reloads was perhaps the weakest. Things don’t seem to have changed much. It has 3.2 million SIMs out of a total of 139.3 million. So now the plan is to give away two million SIMs.

A woman can collect two Aparajita SIMs from the customer care centers and retailers of the state-owned mobile operator, Tarana said.

An Aparajita user will get Tk 10 as preloaded balance with a validity of three months, Teletalk officials said.

The users will also enjoy 1 GB data and 10 minutes on-net and 5 minutes off-net talktime for free for the next seven days, they added.

The mobile connections will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Aparajita users can also purchase weekly packages of 1 GB of data at Tk 8 and 2 GB of data at Tk 14. They can avail the offer three months in a row after activating the SIM, officials said.

Existing female Teletalk users can migrate to the Aparajita scheme, Teletalk’s Managing Director Kazi Md Golam Quddus said.

Quddus expects the new scheme to boost the operator’s number of customers.

I hope the outcome will be different from when the Government of Bangladesh gave me a free SIM.

Bangladesh has doggedly held on to the SIM activation tax, though it has come down over the years. I wonder whether the government will pay the tax on the free SIMs?

We’re doing a nationwide teleuse survey in Bangladesh. With luck we will be able to see the efficacy of the government’s generosity with taxpayer money.

1 Comment

  1. Teletalk has been a defaulter of license fees, spectrum charges and other payments. Therefore, it’s a state-owned illegal entity. The government has correctly shutdown the CDMA operator Citycell for similar nonpayments but ignores Teletalk’s misconduct. It’s another bad example of double-standard in regulation. Telecoms state minister is desperate to cover-up Teletalk’s pathetic image by dishing out free mobile connections.