January 21, 2010

GSMA urges Bangladesh to develop Broadband services

GSMA, the global trade body representing the mobile telephone industry, on Thursday called on Bangladesh to issue third-generation (3G) radio spectrum, to develop broadband services and internet access in the country.

"With limited fixed line coverage unable to adequately serve the widely dispersed Bangladesh population, more focus must be given to releasing the urgently needed spectrum for mobile broadband," Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer at the GSMA said in a statement.

About 90 percent of fixed lines in Bangladesh are in urban areas where about 25 percent of the population lives, the GSMA said.

The Bangladesh Telecoms regulator said it plans to award 3G
licenses through an open auction this year. The move could help more people access the internet.

About 52 million people have mobiles in the country, compared with 1.65 million fixed-line phones.

Analysts predict the number of mobile subscribers could top 70 million by 2011, nearly half the country's population of 150 million people.

There are six cellphone carriers in Bangladesh, including five foreign operators.

Grameenphone, mostly controlled by Norway's Telenor leads the market with 23.26 million subscribers followed by Egyptian Orascom Telecom's Banglalink with 13.87 million.

Analysts expect competition to heat up in the telecom sector as India's top operator Bharti Airtel is buying 70 percent stake in Bangladesh's fourth-largest carrier Warid.

Internet access is expected to contribute 2.6 percent of GDP in 2020, by stimulating the agricultural, service and manufacturing industries, according to the Boston Consulting Group.


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