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Mobile subscriber growth in Bangladesh continues
Bangladesh is one of the poorest, most densely populated, least developed countries in the world. The country must work hard to overcome obstacles associated with the country’s lowly economic status and still developing ICT infrastructure, not least of which being an overly bureaucratic government.The country also has a reputation for the inefficiency of its state-owned enterprises.
In August 2016 the Bangladesh government awarded a Chinese joint venture the contract for a BDT20.48 billion (USD256 million) upgrade project on the fixed network of BTCL. The network overhaul is aimed at providing a wider, modernised and low-cost range of IP telephony, high speed internet and converged services such as video calling and videoconferencing over BTCL’s PSTN access lines, in order to compete better against mobile substitutes.
The internet came late to Bangladesh with the country gaining connectivity in 1996. In the last few years it has grown considerably, although from a very low base.
Mobile broadband continues to grow strongly however fixed broadband services continue to struggle. Fixed broadband penetration in Bangladesh continues increasing strongly from a very small base. Penetration increased from 0.4% in 2012 to 1.9% in 2014 and 2.7% in 2016. Fixed broadband penetration is predicted to grow strongly to 2021. In April 2016 Robi Axiata launched a project to deploy WiFi hotspots across the country. Over following six months it will roll out Wi-Fi services in 500 restaurants, cafes and retail outlets; 100 educational institutions; ten transport hubs (airports/railway stations) and over 350 buses, taxis and trains. In early 2016 wireless broadband operator Ollo launched a 4G LTE-based internet service in Jessore, Barisal, Sylhet, Mymensingh and Moulvibazar.
The mobile subscriber growth rate in Bangladesh has been strong between 2011 and 2016, although growth rates subsided to a single digit rate by 2014 due to a heightened state of maturity in the market. Mobile market penetration increased from 55% in 2011 to 80% in 2014, 84% in 2015 and 87% in 2016. The rate of growth will begin to decline over the next five years to 2021 as the market further matures.
In February 2016 the BTR set a new target for launching its delayed mobile spectrum auction in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands by the end of June 2016.
In August 2016 Robi Axiata and Huawei completed a 4G LTE trial run which demonstrated download speeds of over 71Mbps in Gulshan. Robi is readying its network for upcoming 4G spectrum licence allocations which are hoped for by the end of 2016. Teletalk will be ready to launch 4G LTE alongside its private sector rivals in 2017 after it addresses its network shortcomings. Talks were continuing with potential buyers for CityCell. IT was ordered to pay a fine to the regulator or have its licence revoked by the Supreme Court.
- the focus starts to build on the country developing into ‘Digital Bangladesh’ by 2021 with this strategy providing a focus for infrastructure development;
- Key Developments:
- the number of fixed-line operators has been greatly diminished, despite some ‘revalidating’ of licences;
- Mobile broadband continues to grow strongly however fixed broadband services continue to struggle
- In April 2016 Robi Axiata launched a project to deploy WiFi hotspots across the country.
- Teletalk will be ready to launch 4G LTE alongside its private sector rivals in 2017
- The rate of growth of the mobile market will begin to decline over the next five years to 2021 as the market further matures.
Companies mentioned in this report:
Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL); GrameenPhone; CityCell (PBTL); Banglalink; Robi (formerly Aktel); Teletalk (Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board); Airtel Bangla (formerly Warid Telecom); Bangladesh Railway (BR); Power Grid Company Bangladesh (PGCB); Fibre @ Home; Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL); Summit Communications.