Bangladesh – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts The outstanding success of the mobile market, however, has been achieved in a Bangladesh that continues to struggle with its lowly economic status, its frequent natural disasters such cyclones and floods and the slow implementation of much-needed economic reforms. This state of affairs is reflected in the fixed-line segment of the local telecom market which remains stagnant with a teledensity of less than 1%, the lowest in South Asia.With almost 99% of homes lacking a telephone and with a substantial waiting list for fixed-line services, the country is still struggling with some of the most underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure in the world. Interestingly, about 80% of Bangladesh’s 1.
5 million fixed telephone services were to be found in its four main cities and most of these (61% as at June 2009) had been provided by the state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board. Following a number of years of strong growth, starting from a very low base, mobile telephone penetration was approaching the 30% milestone in early 2009.So, it is with some fascination that the outsider observes what has been, and continues to be, a booming mobile market in Bangladesh. In the first half of 2009, there were signs that the growth rate was easing considerably. The challenge for the operators is to maintain viable business models, given that ARPU has been rapidly falling as the telcos chase subscribers in the rural areas where 80% of the population lives in 86,000 villages.
The booming mobile phone industry is estimated to have created nearly 240,000 jobs throughout the country.A country with a population of 150 million inhabitants, and continued economic growth, appears to be a highly lucrative market, both for the mobile phone operators and network system manufacturers. A recent market survey conducted by a Swedish research institute reveals Bangladesh to be the biggest potential telecom market in Asia after China and India. Category 2008 2009 (e)| Fixed-line services: Total number of subscribers (million) 1. 34 1. 55 Annual change 13% 16% Fixed-line penetration (population) 0. 84% 0. 87% Fixed-line penetration (household) 4.
5% 4. 7% | Internet:Total number of subscribers1 200,000 250,000 Annual change 14% 25% Internet subscriber penetration (population) 0. 1% 0. 1% Internet subscriber penetration (household) 0. 5% 0. 6%| Mobile services: Total number of subscribers (million) 45.
2 50. 0 Annual change 33% 11% Mobile penetration (population) 28% 30%| Key highlights: • Bangladesh’s mobile market passed 47 million subscribers by June 2009 with penetration running at 30%. This was preceded by a significant three-year period in which the country saw mobile subscriber numbers more than treble as the market expanded rapidly.The well-known investment bank, Morgan Stanley, anticipates an expansion to 40 percent mobile phone penetration in the country within a few years. By 2015, Bangladesh will witness an even greater growth of penetration — it is estimated to be around 50 mobile sets per 100 inhabitants. An increasing number of mobile phone operators are showing eagerness to invest in the Bangladesh market, which demonstrates the country’s huge potential in mobile phone growth for many years to come. Grameenphone was far and away the leading mobile operator, claiming around 21 million subscribers, or 47% of the total mobile subscriber base, as at mid-2009, despite the best commercial efforts of its five competitors. • Internet penetration remains low (0.
4% user penetration by end-2008) and Internet subscription rates are considerably lower. • Although broadband Internet services are virtually non-existent in Bangladesh, following the granting of a number of WiMAX licences in 2008, there is considerable optimism that this is about to change.