Bangladeshi market leader Grameenphone has begun rolling out 3G services across the country, starting in the capital city of Dhaka.
The operator’s current goal is to extend coverage to all 64 of Bangladesh’s regional cities by the end of the first quarter, 2014. Grameenphone, a subsidiary of Telenor, has a self-described “strong legacy of providing mobile services to all parts of the country”.
The company acquired twice as much spectrum as its main rivals during auctions held in August this year. However, it paid $210 million to secure frequencies in the 2.1GHz band – double the amount paid by Robi Axiata, Airtel Bangladesh, and Bangalink.
At the end of the first half of 2013, Bangladesh had 105.6 million connections – however, 99% of these are 2G, with an overwhelming majority also prepaid. Prior to Grameenphone, the only operator offering 3G (WCDMA) services was Teletalk. Of its nearly 2 million subscribers, fewer than 200,000 have 3G connections.
Grameenphone has 44 million connections, making it the market leader in Bangladesh with a share of roughly 42%. Banglalink and Robi Axiata take second and third place respectively, with 27.1 million and 22.9 million connections.
A GSMA Intelligence report released this year placed penetration in Bangladesh at around 40%, noting that it is “one of the few countries in Asia where the nationwide deployment of high-speed mobile networks has yet to be realised” and that accordingly there is “tremendous room for growth”.