Grameenphone, Bangladesh's biggest cell phone operator, plans to upgrade all of its existing 10,000 base transceiver stations across the country to support 3G by June this year.
Grameenphone – 55.8% owned by Norwegian telco Telenor and 34.2% owned by local GrameenGrameen Telecom – said it currently has 5,800 such sites, and an additional 1,700 will be upgraded within the first quarter of this year, the Daily Star quoted Grameenphone CEO Rajeev Sethi as saying.
“Currently, 65% of 57 million active Grameenphone users are covered by 3G networks, which is already significant for a country like Bangladesh,” said Sethi. “After June, customers can use the fastest available data service anywhere in the country.”
Grameenphone is the first operator to make voice services available all over the country, and will replicate the model for data as well, he said.
Sigve Brekke, president and CEO of Telenor Group, said the company's ambition is to make every active mobile user an internet user as well.
Bangladesh's market is about to expand in terms of internet usage, and Grameenphone is preparing its network to take the lead, according to Brekke.
Brekke said internet penetration in Bangladesh is about 28% and will reach 50% percent soon.
Not many countries rolled out 3G services as fast as Grameenphone did in Bangladesh, according to Brekke.
Grameenphone has covered all 64 districts within six months of its rollout, much sooner than the 36-month conditionality stipulated in the 3G license agreement by the regulator.
Grameenphone invested about $188,000 until the third quarter of 2015 in rolling out 3G services and boosting capacity.
“Several new digital services will enter the market within a short time, which will open new windows of opportunity for education, health, banking and other services and drive growth in the internet business,” said Brekke.