Grameen Phone logo COURTESY
Grameenphone lost 9.2lakh subscribers in January Teletalk attracted highest number of new subscribers. At the end of January, the country’s leading operator’s total subscriber base stood at 7.8 crore, which is 45.9 per cent of the total market. Robi, the country’s second largest operator, gained 2.2 lakh new subscribers to take its tally to 5.1 crore. The new customers edged up Robi’s market share from 29.9 per cent in December 2020 to 30 per cent last month.
Banglalink, the number three player in the market, welcomed 2.8 new users to its network. At the end of January, the operator had 3.6 crore subscribers, consolidating its market share slightly. But it is the state-owned Teletalk that took on board the highest number of new subscribers 4.9 lakh. And it was thanks to 200 towers set up in Haor areas and other regions where telecom penetration was missing as part of the government’s plans to expand network coverage for Mujib Borsho, saidMd Shahab Uddin, managing director of Teletalk.
The operator distributed 7 lakh SIM cards free of cost along with 2GB data at a reasonable rate of Tk 17 with validity for 15 days. This distribution was made among 12 per cent of the population in those remote areas, which, according to Uddin, did the trick. “There are no fibre optical networks there. We provided network connectivity through microwave link with 2G, 3G and 4G data speed. It was a challenge for us in terms of distribution. But the gamble paid off," he said, adding that another 200 towers are on the way.
After a drop in mobile subscriber numbers soon after the government announced a countrywide shutdown on March 26 for two-and-a-half months to flatten the curve on coronavirus, the industry began to win them back as the economy gradually reopened from June. Since then, the subscribers increased and reached a record 17 crore at the end of January, according to data from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. A subscriber is counted after being verified using the biometric system and who has any activity (voice, data, SMS) at least once in the preceding 90 days. Meanwhile, the number of mobile internet subscribers also increased by 6.8 lakh in January to hit 10.3 crore, which is 91.6 per cent of the total internet subscription in Bangladesh.