The mobile telecommunication sector of the country made history in April by reaching the 100m mark for active subscribers.
Besides Bangladesh, only 12 other countries across the globe enjoy the 100m active subscribers’ status.
Experts said that with the advent of 3G services in the country, the mobile phone user-base grew faster than what the telecommunication industry had anticipated.
In March, the number of mobile phone subscribers (active SIM) was close to the milestone (99.87m).
“And in early April, we reached the landmark,” a Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) official told the Dhaka Tribune. The regulatory body will soon declare the achievement officially, he added.
“It’s a great achievement for us, and it will help the socio-economic development of Bangladesh,” BTRC Chairman Sunil Kanti Bose said Monday. “As lots of multiple SIMs are available, our real mobile users might be 120 million,” he added.
Bose said the telecom industry was growing, despite conflicts in society: “It is a very good sign for the industry so far.”
Grameenphone led the market with 42.62m customers, compared with 41.79m a month earlier.
The country’s largest mobile operator achieved the mark by adding more than 0.83m subscribers in April. A local concern of Norwegian telecom giant Telenor Group, Grameenphone controls about 42% of the market.
The BTRC official said as there were only 0.13m subscribers short of the 100m milestone in March, it is obvious that the new Grameenphone subscribers were enough to achieve the landmark.
The second and third largest operators, Banglalink and Robi, also added thousands of new costumers at the same time. The market share of Banglalink is now nearly 26%, while Robi is more than 21%.
The customer base of Banglalink, a concern of Egyptian Orascom Telecom Bangladesh Ltd, inched up to 26.3m from 25.92m users. Meanwhile, Robi, a part of Malaysia-based Axiata Bangladesh Ltd, saw 21.69m subscribers in April, up from 21.40 million in March.
Airtel Bangladesh’s customer base was 7.47m in March, while Teletalk, the state-run and only 3G operator in the country, ended April with 1.9m subscribers, compared to 1.8m in March.
Only Citycell (Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd), the country’s oldest and now the smallest operator, saw their subscriber base decline in the last couple of months, with 1.4m users in April, down from1.5m a month earlier.
At the same time, operators have millions more subscribers with inactive SIMs in the country.
“We have a good chance to overtake other countries, as I believe another 100m SIMs can be sold,” the BTRC chairman said. “It’s an opportunity for the operators.”
In July 2007, number of mobile subscribers crossed the 30 million mark. After nine months, it rose to 40m, while it took another 17 months (September ‘09) to reach the 50m land mark.
The sector then enjoyed growth at a faster rate, hitting the 60m mark in July 2010 while 70m in January 2011 and 80m in September, before achieving 90m by April 2012.
China is the only “billion subscribers country”. India is another leading country in terms of mobile users, with 861.6m.