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Dhaka Tribune

Baksaas: Telenor worried over ‘unrest-full’ situation

Update : 21 Nov 2013, 11:10 AM

Telenor Group President Jon Fredrik Baksaas is apprehending a negative impact on their earnings from Grameenphone due to the ongoing political “unrest-full” situation in Bangladesh.

“We are very concerned about the current political situation in Bangladesh,” he told a group of journalists from Bangladesh on the sidelines of the ITU Telecom World 2013 that started in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday.

He said the unrest might badly affect the revenues of Grameenphone as well as the economy of Bangladesh. “The current unrest-full political situation will also shortly affect the foreign direct investment, but unlikely in the telecommunication sector.”

“In the sense that the political parties are searching solution of political problems … this is the way which way stimulate the country’s growth,” said the president of Grameenphone’s parent organisation, Telenor, having 55.8% stake.

Grameen Telecom has 34.2% shares in the leading mobile phone operator and the remaining owned by public.

Replying to a question, Baksaas said in strike days people are more reluctant to participate in the activities of their daily life. It affects the revenues of mobile operators, and if the telecom sector is affected, it would hit the other sectors as well.

In that situation, he said, Grameenphone is very supportive with its customers as it is getting 500 to 1,000 3G customers every day in Bangladesh.

About 2600 MHz band spectrum allocation process, he said: “Though we have taken to the government, but here the principle does not meet international set up for the allocation.”

The spectrum is a part of LTE (long-term evolution), a fourth generation mobile broadband communication standard, which Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is going to allocated for a Wi-Max operator, ollo.

Baksaas, recently became the Chairman of GSMA, said ITU has a spectrum set-up policy where 2600 band is for commercial use of mobile operators. From ITU, there is a request to clear regulatory environment and create level playing field for the operators.

“If the policy makers take the right decision about spectrum, the foreign operators may attract investment in the country,” he said.

He stressed on developing the ecosystem of flourishing the 3G in Bangladesh and said: “Local content in Bangladesh still to be resolved. We don’t have sufficient contents. But still we have financial, agriculture and health services contents. And I think a big potential deeper in education sector.”

But, he added, it depends on how we are able to create platform of co-operation between the authorities and the operators. “No doubt there is a big potential for 3G market compared to 2G.”

About their recent offloading of 51% share in GPIT to Accenture – a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company - Baksaas said Telenor was not in the position to commercialise the GPIT and decided to sell it to Accenture having much customer base potential.

He informed that they have a plan to bring reasonably good quality smart handsets for Bangladesh market. “We are in a position to work with a vendor to bring handsets within the price of around US$40 each. It may reduce to $25 later like feature phones.”

A couple of years ago we launched feature phone with Grameenphone and that might happen again in Bangladesh.  

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