Category Archives: Telecom Sector/Broadband and Internet/WiMAX

Internet infrastructure starts taking shape

Internet infrastructure starts taking shape
Author / Source : FAISAL MAHMUD

DHAKA, JAN 7: The Awami League-led Grand Alliance government has started taking steps to establish an internet infrastructure across the country, to fulfil its electoral pledge of creating a “digital nation”.

For an even expansion of such internet facility, the government has, in the past one week, reduced internet prices in districts by 50 per cent. It also asked six companies to lay out International Terrestrial Cable (ITC) to ensure uninterrupted internet service and re-chalked the roll-out target for a nationwide telecommunication transmission network (NTTN).

From the beginning of 2012, the state-owned Bangladesh Telecommunication Company Ltd (BTCL) is offering broadband connection with speed of up to 256 KB at Tk. 300 in districts. Previously, the price of the same amount of bandwidth was Tk. 600.

The BTCL divisional engineer (internet), Sunil Kumar Adhikari, told The Independent that the BTCL has been providing this package under its leased internet service. “We offer three types of internet connections, namely leased, broadband and dial-up services,” he said.

Adhikari also said that under the leased service, the BTCL uses gigabit Ethernet to connect to the NTTN network. “Under this arrangement, we use the NTTN to provide our services”, he added.

He said the BTCL has also taken other steps to ensure internet service to all. “We’ve already established landphone internet facilities under our dial-up service in 50 districts. Soon, all districts will be brought under this facility,” he affirmed.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on January 6 handed over licences to six private companies to build and operate the ITC for backing up the country’s lone undersea cable to ensure uninterrupted internet services throughout the country.

According to licence conditions, the terrestrial cables will start offering services within the next six months. In September last year, the government had selected six companies to distribute the licences. Each of the companies deposited Tk. 2 crore as licence fee and Tk 1 crore as bank guarantee.

The licensees are Novocom Ltd, Asis-AHL JV, BD Link Communication Ltd, Mango Teleservices Ltd, Summit Communications Ltd and Fibre@home Ltd.

The companies will be able to connect with all neighbouring countries through terrestrial fibre-optic cables. The six cables will pass through Meherpur, Benapole, Sylhet and Comilla borders.

Talking to The Independent, Maj Gen Jia Ahmed, chairman of the BTRC, said the government is planning to get connected with the second submarine cable, SEA-ME-WE-5, very soon. “Expansion of the internet is the present government’s top priority and we are working on it”, he remarked.

He also said that the government is trying to make internet affordable for all. He said the regulator has given 14 large internet service providers (ISP) the licence to provide fixed wi-max service. “These ISPs are allowed to expand their business under this fixed wi-max service, so that they can lucratively switch to the nationwide telecommunication transmission network (NTTN) instead of using overhead cable,” he added.

The telecom regulator, however, recently amended its licensing guideline for the NTTN and included a new provision, so that each operator, as per the amended guideline, has an obligation to deploy its network in all divisional headquarters within the first year of its licence.

Under the amended guideline, all district headquarters of the designated zones and all upazila headquarters of the designated zones will have to be laid out by the NTTN licensees within three and five years, respectively.

Experts, however, are sceptical about the government’s initiatives to expand the internet infrastructure. Dr Sattyaprshad Majumder, professor of telecommunication engineering in BUET, said that two-thirds of the country’s current bandwidth are being wasted because of the government’s open market approach towards distribution.

“Rather than having a policy to prioritise the potential sectors for bandwidth distribution, the government is now providing bandwidth on a random basis”, he pointed out.

He said that setting up of such an internet infrastructure is not enough to increase the number of subscribers. The government needs to form a policy to provide a level playing field for the licensed ITC operators, he added.

“The government should also reduce the 15 per cent VAT on internet usage”, he observed.

Govt to lower bandwidth price by 20pc: minister

Govt to lower bandwidth price by 20pc: minister
Star Business Report

The government will soon lower the internet bandwidth price by 20 percent, said Telecom Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju yesterday.

The new price will be declared by this month, the telecom minister said at a programme, Grameenphone-Prothom Alo Internet Uthsab, in the capital.

He said people of Bangladesh will be provided with 3G (third generation) mobile technology in March. 3G is a technology that provides high speed internet data transfer facility through a wireless system.

At present, 1 megabits per second (Mbps) internet bandwidth is priced at Tk 10,000.

Robi brings haat-bazaar service

Robi brings haat-bazaar service
Business Report

Robi Axiata Ltd has introduced a one-of-a-kind agriculture based service call Robi Haat-bazaar. The service is intended to help agricultural marketing, which is an essential tool for uninterrupted supply of products to the consumers. Farmers in the rural areas can achieve potential benefit from their produce if they have access to the markets in which they sell their harvest.

‘Robi Haat-Bazaar’ is an integration of two important services; ‘Bazaar Dor’ and ‘Krishibazaar’.

Bangladesh’s mobile phone users surpass 82m in Nov

Bangladesh’s mobile phone users surpass 82m in Nov
Author / Source : Xinhua

DHAKA, Jan 1: Bangladesh’s mobile phone subscribers reached 82.442 million at the end of last November with over 15 million new users in the first 11 months last year, an official said Sunday.

According to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the country’s six cell phone operators sold 1.634 million new connections last November alone. The number of subscribers of the cell phone companies—Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel, Citycell, Teletalk—at the end of last November stood at 36.113 million, 23.367 million, 15.855 million, 5.801 million, 1.739 million and 1.198 million respectively, said the official who preferred to be unnamed.

Second undersea cable to come in three years

Second undersea cable to come in three years
Abdullah Mamun

The country is going to see the second international submarine cable within three years as the state-owned Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL) has recently signed a deal to join a consortium of more than 16 countries.

The project of the consortium styled SEA-ME-WE 5 (South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 5) is an international undersea optical fibre cable that provides internet connections and will connect Bangladesh with international information highway.

After taking the finance ministry’s consent, the telecommunications ministry gave its approval to the state-run company to join the consortium, according to an official of the telecom ministry.

The second submarine cable will follow the route of the current SEA-ME-WE 4 cable and will reach Japan via Hong Kong, said Monwar Hossain, managing director of the state company.

The project will be completed by 2014 at a cost of Tk 450 crore, said Hossain, adding that an international bid will be floated in July.

The BSCCL will invest Tk 200 crore and collect the rest from international agencies or financial institutions. However, the government will not guarantee the BSCCL loans as it has a fund crisis, said the ministry official.

Hossain said the state-run company has the capacity to operate the new submarine cable as it has the experience of operating the existing one. “Moreover, the company has its own landing station.”

Currently, Bangladesh is connected with the information highway with its only submarine cable SEA-ME-WE 4.

In 2004, Islamic Development Bank funded the project of SEA-ME-WE 4 cable from France to Singapore.

Meanwhile, the government has approved six licences for setting up international terrestrial cables connecting the country with the world via India.

The cables to go through Meherpur, Benapole, Sylhet and Comilla borders will provide a route alternative to the sub-sea connectivity.

Telecom sector earns Tk 122bn in 3 years

Telecom sector earns Tk 122bn in 3 years

The telecom sector earned Taka 121.90 billion for the national exchequer in the past three years of the incumbent government with officials saying the amount is Taka 73.09 billion more than the earnings during the entire five-year tenure of the past BNP-led regime.

Bangladesh Teleco-mmunication Regula-rity Commission (BTRCI) officials said they collected over Taka 60 billion during 2011 through issuing licences and spectrum allocations to the mobile phone and other telecom operators.

“The earnings from the telecom sector during the 2002-2008 period of the past government were Taka 48.81 billion,” BTRC chairman Major General (retd) Zia Ahmed told BSS.

He said during the current fiscal alone the BTRC collected Taka 31.84 billion from four mobile phone operators as the first installment of 2G (second generation) licence renewal fees and “we expect to get another Taka 40.89 billion in next two installments from the 2G renewal”.

In November last, the four mobile phone operators have paid Taka 31.84 billion, 49 percent of the total amount, as their licences were expired. The total amount is Taka 72.73 billion for the 2G renewal.

“We may get an additional amount of Taka 7.78 billion as VAT from GrameenPhone, Banglalink and Robi as they didn’t pay 15 percent VAT; if we could win a court battle with these mobile phone operators we would get the amount. The issue is now pending before the High Court,” the BTRC chief said.

He said the BTRC also expected to fetch an additional amount of Taka 30.34 billion from GrameenPhone (GP), an amount which the mobile phone operator was found to have dodged during the first ever audit by the regulatory body.

“The issue, too, however, is now pending before the High Court for a decision,” Ahmed said.

The BTRC chairman also expected that they could fetch approximately Taka 80 billion from the 3G (third generation) mobile phone services auction in the coming 2012 as the process of appointing consultants to formulate 3G licence guideline and policy were underway.

Bangladesh witnessed a massive growth of mobile phone users in the past three years with 82.5 million people currently using the cellphones while the figure was 46 million at the beginning of 2009.

The number of internet users also grew by 21 million in the past three years as the number of users currently is 25 million.

“The number is being cumulatively increased as the mobile phone and other operators are expanding their internet services massively,” Ahmed said.

He said the cent percent population of 99 percent of the national territory of the country now came under the mobile phone networks while preparations were underway to launch the country’s first ever satellite into the orbit.

“The financial aspect of the satellite ‘Bangabandhu’ project has been given approval and the consultant appointment process is at the final stage,” Ahmed said. —BSS

BDCOM launches ‘NOMADIX’ to provide Wi-Fi hotspot

BDCOM launches ‘NOMADIX’ to provide Wi-Fi hotspot

DHAKA, Dec 13 (BSS) – BDCOM Online Limited has introduced ‘NOMADIX Access Gateway’ in the country to facilitate Wi-Fi hotspot services to the internet users.

The NOMADIX system is a dedicated network appliance placed at the edge of the network providing universal mobile connectivity, advanced security and policy-based traffic shaping for the subscriber.

“The system does not require any kind of software set up in the computer for internet access,” BDCOM managing director Sumon Ahmed Sabir said today at the product launching ceremony at National Press Club.

The NOMADIX of the United States, a subsidiary of NTT DOCMO, is the most accepted gateway globally that provides Wi-Fi hotspot in different areas such as hotel, shopping mall, airport and rail station, he added.

BDCOM has an agreement with Innovative Data Solution (Pvt.) Ltd. (IDS) of Sri Lanka, the distributor of NOMADIX in the SAARC Region. It will also provide IntraSERV Billing and Management solution system.

Having over 50,000 units over the past ten years, the Nomadix access gateway is the market leader in magnetizing access to the internet at public venues, said IDS chief executive officer Jeremy Fernando.

“The NOMADIX Service Engine (NSE) software has been developed in house resulting in more than 100 patents in 15 unique areas of functionality which are required for public access network,” he said.

Nomadix Gateway has been deployed in a variety of venues by companies such as china Netcom, Best Western, Hilton, Marriot, NTT-ME,, Korea Telecom, Reliance Telecom, Motorola, Intercontinental Hotel Group and Starwood.

Country to have second submarine cable soon: Faruk Khan

Country to have second submarine cable soon: Faruk Khan
Author / Source : BSS

DHAKA, Dec 4: Commerce Minister Lt Col (retd) Faruk Khan today said the government is working for another submarine cable to ensure qualitative, faster and low cost IT services to all. “Work on the second optical fiber line is underway. I will raise the matter before the cabinet so the work is done as quickly as possible,” he said while inaugurating e-krishok service at Spectra Convention Centre in the city.

Bangladesh Institute of ICT In Development (BIID) in cooperation with Catalyst, ACI Ltd and Grameen Phone (GP) launched the service.

E-krishok is an initiative to reach the benefits of ICT to farmers of rural areas. Any farmer having an issue, question or problem related to agriculture or any other income generating activity would be able to get low-cost IT services.

Prime Minister’s Private Secretary and National Project Director of Access to Information (A2I) Programme Nazrul Islam Khan, and deputy ambassador of the Netherlands Embassy in Dhaka Carel Richter addressed the function as special guests.

BIID chief executive officer Shahid Uddin Akbar, Sultanur Reza of GP, executive director of Catalyst Markus Kupper and executive director of ACI Ltd Dr FH Ansarey also shared their ideas on how farmers can benefit using technology-based information.

WiMax operators set to go aggressive

WiMax operators set to go aggressive

Author / Source : MASHIUR RAHAMAN

DHAKA, dec 1: With the promise of high-speed internet connectivity at an affordable cost, the country’s two existing WiMax operators have geared up to secure greater market penetration in the years to come.

Equipped with advanced 4G technology, the WiMax operators are determined to sustain their already achieved success and intensify service operation. “We are focusing to expand our service network at every corner of the country, targeting addition of  more users to our network,” GM Farukh Khan, head of marketing and communication of Banglalion Communications Ltd, told The Independent.

With a different strategy, Qubee, the other operating WiMax service provider, is looking to intensify its service quality, instead of going for ground coverage.

“We are not looking to be everywhere with weak service quality. Instead, we want to be the best at wherever we are,” Sayed Ashiqur Rahman, Qubee’s head of Brand and Communications, explains business strategy of his company. Though in different style, both the companies are promised to rock the broadband service industry by next year.

WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a communication technology for wireless delivery of high-speed internet service to large geographical areas. It is part of a “fourth generation,” or 4G, of wireless communication technology.

Bangladesh Tele-communication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) in 2008 issued WiMax licence to four applicants. Two of them — Qubee and Banglalion — managed to begin operation at the end of 2009. But BRAC BD and state-run BTCL, the two other companies that have received WiMax licence at the time, are unlikely to start operation in near future.

Despite their offer of advanced 4G wireless broadband internet services, subscribers’ rate for WiMax remained even less than 1 per cent of the country’s total 20 million internet users, BTRC source said.

At present, the country’s 94 per cent internet users depend on services offered by the mobile phone operators, WiMax operators have promised to accelerate growth.

Within just over a year and half of the first appearance, Banglalion have already expanded operation to 33 districts, connecting about 200,000 users across the country, GM Farukh Khan said.

“By the end of 2012, each corner of the country is expected to come under our network coverage,” he disclosed his company’s expansion plan.

Offer of high-speed wireless broadband internet service at affordable cost is the prime marketing strategy of Banglalion, he said.

Qubee plans to grow in terms of quality, giving geographical coverage.

Explaining his company’s achievements so far, Sayed Ashiqur Rahman said, “Qubee leads the market in bringing the end price down. It is the first company to offer double speed at no additional cost.”

The pioneering endeavour will continue in the days to come, he added.

Qubee has 25 full-fledged customer care centres in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet where every internet related solutions are available.

“Our future business strategy is to be the best with our innovative and user-friendly services to whatever the number joins our network,” Rahman added.

BSCCL to float share in January

BSCCL to float share in January

DHAKA, Nov 29 (BSS) – Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) is expecting to float share in January next year.

“The BSCCL would go to the share market in January as it is working to completing formalities within December to launch IPO,” secretary of posts and telecommunications Sunil Kanti Bose said today at an award giving ceremony.

BSCCL, as the first Bangladeshi company, has been awarded ‘AAA’ both in ‘government support’ and ‘stand alone basis’ by the evaluator organization Credit Rating Information Services Limited (CRISL).

Sunil Kanti, also the chairman of the state-owned company, said the BSCCL is making profit every year after being converted into a public limited company in July 1, 2008.

The BSCCL made profit of Taka 11.50 crore in 2008, Taka 34.50 crore in fiscal 2009-10 and Taka 54.50 crore in fiscal 2010-11. It has a total paid up capital of Taka 87.50 crore.

“BSCCL has given 10 percent dividend to the government exchequer in 2008, 30 percent in 2009-10 and 20 percent in 2010- 11 fiscal years,” said its managing director Monwar Hossain.

About conferring ‘AAA’ credit rating on BSCCL, chief executive officer of CRISL Mozaffar Ahmed said that the company has achieved great success both in business and management.

“BSCCL is the first instance in Bangladesh of attaining ‘AAA’ at all the measurement scale in the 16-year working history of CRISL,” he said.

BSCCL is the lone organization, which provides bulk bandwidth for foreign voice and data communication all over the country as well as connects Bangladesh with international super information highway.

The telecom secretary said the government is working to connect with another submarine cable ‘CMU5’ to be joined by big companies of pacific and eastern region.

“BSCCL has attained the ability to expand the network with its own cost,” he said.

1.7m users to get Teletalk 3G services from March

1.7m users to get Teletalk 3G services from March

State-owned cell phone operator Teletalk is expected to provide Third Generation or “3G” mobile services to 1.7 million users by March next year upgrading its technical infrastructures. “Teletalk is working rapidly to launch the 3G services from March 26,” Teletalk managing director Mujibur Rahman told BSS. Only 1.7million users will enjoy the services initially and the number would be increased gradually, he added.

He said Teltalk nearly finalized the preparedness to launch the 3G services installing additional 2160 BTS or Base Transceiver Stations.

Besides, he said, installation work of new 708 BTS was almost complete and they will be put on operation with the existing 1250 BTS. Another 100 BTS were already installed in Dhaka and works were underway to set up more 68 BTS by March in the capital.

At the same time, 500 new Transmission Re-ceiver Equipment have been installed to reduce call congestion, Mujibur said. Teletalk has now 29 Base Station Controllers (BSC) of which seven has been installed newly. They are working as network hub.

The Teletalk initiatives came as the government earlier decided to award the state-run enterprise with the task of providing 3G services. Dhaka, Chitta-gong, Sylhet and others big cities will be brought under the services. The user will have to collect new 3G enabled SIM changing the existing 2G SIM card.

Experts said 3G is the way to provide wireless broadband. This is a mobile dedicated technology and can be obtained through smartphones or modems. After introducing the 3G technology or mobile broadband, the mobile user would enjoy the real time video calling, live mobile tv, high speed download, HD gaming, e-education, public health, tele-medicine and e-shopping.

On the other hand, the Teletalk managing director thought that the user number is being cumulatively increased after the declaration of launching 3G, and hoped that it will be reached 30 lakh before March.

Currently, around 50,000 SIM cards of Teletalk is being sold every month, he added.

Teletalk will also set up four customer centres—two in Dhaka and one each in Narayanganj and Sylhet. —Bss

Cellphones must have Bangla keypad

Cellphones must have Bangla keypad

BSS, Dhaka

The telecoms regulator has decided not to allow the import of mobile phone handsets without Bangla keypad from February next year.

“Importers and vendors will not be allowed to import any mobile phone handset without Bangla keypad after January 31,” Zia Ahmed, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regularity Commission (BTRC), told BSS.

He said the commission took the decision to supplement a national campaign to promote Bangla and make ICT equipment-friendly to common people.

Sources said at present, some vendors are selling cell phone handsets with Bangla keypad in limited-scale only for their business interest.

The BTRC chief said the commission nearly finalised a guideline to issue an order that would allow only cent percent

Bangladeshi companies and vendors to import cell phone sets to promote local entrepreneurship.

Welcoming the BTRC’s move, Bangladesh mobile phone importers association secretary Foysal Alim said that the regulator should have taken the decision earlier for the interest of local entrepreneurs.

At the same time, the telephone regulator has taken another decision to install EIR (Equipment Identification Register) server to every cell phone operators for detecting the duplication of handset IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number.

Currently, there are a huge number of handsets in the market with fake IMEI number.

Sources said some foreign handset manufacturing and cell phone companies including Grameenphone and Banglalink have marketed cell phone sets directly under its own brand for long time. But, they could not run the job after the implementation of new BTRC guidelines.

At present, around 50 local importers are importing cell phone handsets from different countries.

Industry insiders alleged that the handset manufacturing and cell phone companies have made huge profit through marketing the substandard handsets in the country.

The regulator, however, has kept a provision that the cell phone companies would import high quality multi-media handset by taking prior conditional permission from the BTRC.

Six companies to get ITC licence next week

Six companies to get ITC licence next week

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regularity Commission (BTRC) would issue International Terrestrial Cable (ITC) licence to six companies next week.

“The six companies have already completed necessary process including depositing licence fee. The printing of licence document is going on and it would be handed over to them next week,” BTRC Chairman Maj Gen (retd) Zia Ahmed told BSS.

They have to start operation within six months after getting the licence, he added.

At present, Bangladesh runs its international telecommunication connectivity through the lone submarine cable. But, the connection is snapped time and again due to different problems.

Officials said the licence recipient companies would connect Bangladesh telecommunication with the world through an alternative terrestrial optical fibre of the neighbouring country’s telecom company whenever required.

BTRC Director General (legal and licence) A K M Shahiduzzaman told the news agency that all the necessary works have been completed to hand over the licence next week.

The six companies deposited Tk 20 million (2.0 crore) each as licence fee, he added.

The companies are Novocom Limited, Asis-AHL JV, BD Link Communication Ltd, Mango Teleservices Limited, Summit Communications Ltd and Fibre@Home Limited.

Sources said the government floated the licensing guidelines on March 31 this year. Primarily, the commission had decided to hand over three ITC licences. Later, it changed the decision and started the process of awarding six ITC licences instead of three. Nine companies had submitted applications for licence.

A 20-member evaluation committee of BTRC scrutinised the applications and made a list as per the quality of the companies. It also recommended that the licences be handed over as per the list.

After completing the necessary process, the posts and telecommunications ministry finalised the licence procedure on September 13 this year.

Airtel expands network infrastructure

Airtel expands network infrastructure
Business Report

Airtel Bangladesh Ltd on Sunday announced that it has added more than 1,000 new network sites in Bangladesh over the last few months. With this, Airtel Bangladesh has established wide scale availability of its services in 4,350 towns including 398 thanas and 2,158 unions.

Commenting on the network expansion initiatives, Chris Tobit, CEO and Managing Director, Airtel Bangladesh said, “In a short span of time – Airtel has emerged as one of the faster growing mobile services’ providers in Bangladesh. We look forward to extending our reach by March 2012 and creating many more opportunities to delight our customers in Bangladesh”

With strong network infrastructure partnerships in place, Airtel is well poised to further ramp up its network rollout towards creating blanket coverage across Bangladesh.

56pc mobile use by year-end: Study

56pc mobile use by year-end: Study
Author / Source : STAFF REPORTER

DHAKA, NOV 11: Backed by a large room for growth in rural areas, mobile phone penetration in the country is expected to reach 56 per cent at the end of 2011, reveals a recent study. The Bangladesh Telecommunications Report Q3 2011, prepared by Business Monitor International (BMI), shows 72.99 million active subscription base in 2010, registering a 44 per cent penetration rate.

“With 75 per cent of Bangladesh’s population residing in rural areas and with more than 30 per cent of the population young, this offers substantial room for additional growth,” the report pointed out.

The BMI report forecast 56 per cent penetration rate for 2011, following further strong double digit growth before ending 2015 on almost 118 per cent.

Until September 2011, the country’s cell phone subscription reached 80.911 million, according to data compiled by BTRC, the regulator for telecommunications.

The report also pointed to no signs of 3G service development in the country’s telecom sector, although operators continue investments in developing value-added services.

The latest are mobile banking services, provided by Banglalink and Citycell for up to nine banks in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Grameenphone launched its web browsing service Opera Mini in April 2011, offering mobile internet services, BMI reports.

According to the report, despite apparent room for growth, competition among the industry’s six operators remains tough. This has been clearly demonstrated by the upcoming renewal of 2G operation licences that got delayed over court order and could lead to higher fees being paid. The result would see many operators increasing their price plans to end users which could place them at a disadvantage to operators such as Airtel, which does not have to renew its licence until 2020, and thereby continue to offer competitively priced tariffs.

The country rose once again in this quarter’s (3Q) BMI Asia Pacific Business Environment Ratings table to 11th place from 13th, as a result of a fall in the scores of the Philippines and Pakistan.

Bangladesh, although retaining an Industry Rewards score comparable to Singapore, it requires greater investment in its telecoms industry to attract greater foreign direct investment. It continues to push for the digitalisation of its ICT services although this will be insufficient if prices do not also decrease at the same time, the BMI report said further.

BMI is a leading source of market intelligence encompassing Country Risk, Financial Markets and Industry Research. With over 25 years of experience, it provides services to clients in over 140 countries worldwide.