Grameenphone, the biggest operator in Bangladesh, has kicked-off the nationwide rollout of 3G services, with the aim of covering all of the country’s 64 regional cities by the end of Q1 2014.
The Telenor-owned company is initially offering services in the capital city of Dhaka, noting that it has a “strong legacy of providing mobile services to all parts of the country”.
Grameenphone picked up its 3G (2.1GHz) spectrum in August 2013, paying $210 million to secure twice the frequency allocation won by rivals Robi Axiata, Airtel Bangladesh, and Bangalink (each paying $105 million).
While according to GSMA Intelligence there were 105.6 million connections in the country (Q2 2013 figures), 99 per cent of these are 2G (and the majority prepaid).
The only existing 3G (WCDMA) operator is state-owned Teletalk, which has fewer than 200,000 3G connections from a total approaching two million.
Grameenphone is the biggest operator in the country, with 44 million connections (a market share of around 42 per cent), followed by Bangalink with 27.1 million (around 26 per cent share) and Robi Axiata on 22.9 million (22 per cent share).
According to a GSMA Intelligence report earlier this year, penetration in the country is around 40 per cent, meaning there is “tremendous room for growth”.
It is also “one of the few countries in Asia where the nationwide deployment of high-speed mobile networks has yet to be realised”, with the introduction of such services “expected to positively impact the country’s socio-economic development”.