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Dhaka Tribune

Grameenphone to focus more on data business

Update : 04 Mar 2014, 06:52 PM

The mobile phone operator Grameenphone is concentrating on expanding its internet business which, the company thinks, will generate more revenue than the voice in future.

Senior executives of the largest operator in Bangladesh and its parent company have observed that the data business will reach a strong position within a couple of years, which the voice market is now enjoying.

“The voice clients are growing at 15% year-on-year in Bangladesh, but it may happen over the period for data, and we’re preparing ourselves for that,” Vivek Sood, CEO of Grameenphone, told the Dhaka Tribune.

As part of the preparation, Grameenphone has deployed their full strength on data side and is going to offer smartphone handsets at the cheapest rate to their middle-class customers in April so that they could experience the fastest data service, he said.

“We are going to offer in next few months which will make lower and middle income customers able to have smartphone sets.”

According to the sources concerned, Grameenphone will provide the locally-assembled smartphones in an association with the handset maker Symphony at Tk3,900 each.

Grameenphonehas already placed a proposal in this regard to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) for approval.

The mobile phone company launched application store “which will be helpful for them to boost the market,” said VivekSood.

Currently, Grameenphone’s internet subscribers are one crore of its total 4.47 crore active SIM users.

After the launch of 3G service in October last year, the company has seen its internet subscribers grow at least 45%, said Grameenphone CEO.

Grameenphone bought 10 Megahertz spectrum in 3G auction in September last year. After that a significant number of 3G connections were sold. The number is increasing every day. 

The mobile companies in different countries in Europe, America and Middle East are witnessing drop in voice revenue and rise in data use.

Some of those countries are offering free voice service with data package, and Bangladesh may also plan such package if necessary, according to the mobile operator sources.

At its internet campaign Grameenphone provided21 lakh free internet hours for school children last month.

The “Internet for All” campaign involved popular Bangladeshi cricketers Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Nasir Hossain for promote their

WhatsApp is a massage application free for the mobile phone users, which is a threat for the mobile phone operators.

Facebook has bought it and declared they will add voice on it which will also be free.

Jon Fredrick Baksaas, president of Telenor Group, said it has created an “enormous threat” for the telecom companies, especially the mobile phone operators.

At present, 45 core people are using WhatsApp around the globe, and in Bangladesh it is becoming popular among the users.

Vivek Sood said mobile phone operators, telecom vendors and the Over-The-Top (OTT) content operators like Facebook, twitter, WhatsApp were trying to find some solutions and set up new business models.

“The revenue can be shared by both OTT operators and mobile phone operators, and we can find some solutions to it,” he said. 

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