Grameenphone

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Grameenphone Limited
Type Limited
Industry Mobile Telecommunication
Founded 1997
Headquarters GPHOUSE, Basundhara, Baridhara, Dhaka-1229.
Bangladesh
Key people Vivek Sood, CEO
Products Telephony, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, 3G: UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+
Revenue Increase ৳ 96.6 billion (2013)[1]
Net income Increase ৳ 14.7 billion (2013)[2]
Employees 3975 (Q2, 2014)[3]
Parent Telenor 55.8%,
Grameen Telecom 34.2%
Public 10%
Website www.grameenphone.com

Grameenphone (Bengali: গ্রামীণফোন) (DSE:GP, CSE:GP), widely abbreviated as GP, is the leading telecommunications service provider in Bangladesh. With more than 50 million subscribers (as of October 2014),[4] Grameenphone is the largest mobile phone operator in the country. It is a joint venture enterprise between Telenor and Grameen Telecom Corporation, a non-profit sister concern of the internationally acclaimed microfinance organization and community development bank Grameen Bank. Telenor, the largest telecommunications company in Norway, owns 55.8% shares of Grameenphone, Grameen Telecom owns 34.2% and the remaining 10% is publicly held.[5]

Grameenphone was the first company to introduce GSM technology in Bangladesh.[5] It also established the first 24-hour Call Center to support its subscribers. With the slogan Go Beyond, Grameenphone promises its customers to bring the best of communication technologies so that they can Go Beyond.[6]

History[edit]

The idea of providing universal mobile phone access throughout Bangladesh, including its rural areas, was originally conceived by Iqbal Quadir,[7] who is currently the founder and director of the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT.[8] He was inspired by the Grameen Bank microcredit model and envisioned a business model where a cell phone can serve as a source of income. After leaving his job as an investment banker in the United States, Quadir traveled back to Bangladesh, after meeting and successfully raising money from New York based investor and philanthropist Joshua Mailman, and worked for three years gaining support from various organizations including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank and the Norwegian telephone company, Telenor.[9] He was finally successful in forming a consortium with Telenor and Grameen Bank to establish Grameenphone. Quadir remained a shareholder of Grameenphone until 2004.

Grameenphone received a license for cellular phone operation in Bangladesh from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications on November 28, 1996. Grameenphone started operations on March 26, 1997, the Independence Day in Bangladesh.

Grameenphone originally offered a mobile-to-mobile connectivity (widely known as GP-GP connection), which created a lot of enthusiasm among the users. It became the first operator to reach the million subscriber milestone as well as ten million subscriber milestone in Bangladesh.[citation needed]

[edit]

On the November 16, 2007 GP formally changed its logo to match its parent company Telenor's logo. According to GP the new logo symbolizes trust, reliability, quality and constant progress. The name Grameenphone was kept as part of the new identity because the name Grameenphone carries with it all of the heritage, success and values of the company's past, added the then CEO of Grameenphone.

Numbering scheme[edit]

Typical Grameenphone SIM Card

Grameenphone uses the following numbering scheme for its subscribers:

+880 17 XXXXXXXX

880 is the ISD code for Bangladesh and is needed only in case of dialing from outside Bangladesh (otherwise, it may be substituted by a 0, making the prefix 017). 17 is the prefix for Grameenphone as allocated by the government of Bangladesh. The eight-digit number XXXXXXXX is the subscriber number.

Network[10][edit]

According to Grameenphone, it has so far invested more than BDT 107 billion (USD 1.6 billion) to build the network infrastructure since 1997. It has invested over BDT 31 billion (USD 450 million) during the first three quarters of 2007 while BDT 2,100 crore (USD 310 million) was invested in 2006 alone.

Grameenphone has built the largest cellular network in the country with over 10,000 base stations in more than 5700 locations. Presently, nearly 98 percent of the country's population is within the coverage area of the Grameenphone network.

The entire Grameenphone network is also GPRS/EDGE enabled, allowing access to dial-up quality speed Internet and data services from anywhere within the coverage area. There are currently nearly 3 million GPRS/EDGE users in the Grameenphone network. Also has 3G network at most of the urban and sub-urban area.

Products offered[edit]

Mobile telephony[edit]

Grameenphone was the first operator to introduce the pre-paid mobile phone service in Bangladesh in September 1999. It offers the pre-paid subscription under the name Easy Prepaid which is currently called "Nishchinto, Amontron, Shohoj, Bondhu, Aapon, Smile, Spondon, Business Solution prepaid". Besides Nishchinto, Amontron, Shohoj, Bondhu, Aapon, Smile, Spondon, Business Solution, Grameenphone also offers a youth based mobile to mobile connectivity within Bangladesh named djuice'.[11]

Grameenphone also offers postpaid mobile service. Xplore Postpaid is the name of its post paid service.[12] Grameenphone also provides several other packages which can be selected based on the type of tariff or features like pulse, sms, internet. Detailed information about packages provided by Grameenphone can be found dialling 121 from your Grameenphone number and can also be found using the official Grameenphone android app available for free download on Google Play Store.

Other services[edit]

  • Internet : Grameenphone provides internet service in its coverage area. As it has EDGE/GPRS enabled network, any subscriber can access to internet through this network. Grameenphone was the first mobile operator in Bangladesh to offer EDGE services to its subscribers.[13]
  • BillPay : A service to enable users to pay their utility bills Electricity/Gas through mobile.[14]
  • CellBazaar : A service to enable users sell or buy products through mobile or internet.[15]
  • Various other services like Stock Information, Instant Messaging, SMS Based Alerts/Services, Voice-based Services, Downloads, Music, Cricket Updates, Web SMS, Mobile Backup etc.

Corporate social responsibility[edit]

Grameenphone has several projects related to social responsibility.[16] These include:

  1. Safe Motherhood & Infant Care Project- More than 1.7 million free primary healthcare services to underprivileged pregnant mothers & their infants.[17]
  2. Free eye care support for around 28,780 people- 3,458 eye sights restored so far.[17]
  3. Awareness building on varied national issues- AIDS, National Immunization Day.[17]
  4. Information boats with digitized livelihood contents and internal access for remote riverine communities.[18]
  5. Economic freedom for more than 400,000 Village Phone Operators.[19]
  6. More than 500 Community Information Centers- connecting life and learning.[20]
  7. Proud sponsor of Bangladesh Special Olympics team.
  8. Proud sponsor of Bangladesh National Cricket team.
  9. Employment opportunity to acid survivors.
  10. Scholarship for underprivileged meritorious students.
  11. Blood donation camps for underprivileged Thalassaemia patients.
  12. Establishment of Blood Bank at Bogra for underprivileged patients.
  13. Emergency relief effort in natural calamities.

Other activities[edit]

Village phone[edit]

With the help of Grameenphone, Grameen Telecom operates the national Village Phone programme, alongside its own parent Grameen Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), acting as the sole provider of telecommunications services to a number of rural areas. Most Village Phone participants are women living in remote areas. Village Phone works as an owner-operated GSM payphone whereby a borrower takes a BDT 12,000 (USD 200) loan from Grameen Bank to subscribe to GP (Grameenphone) and is then trained on how to operate it and how to charge others to use it at a profit. As in September 2006, there are more than 255,000 Village Phones in operation in 55,000 villages around Bangladesh. This program has been replicated also in some other countries including in Uganda and Rwanda in Africa.[21]

A typical Grameenphone tower

Community Information Centers[edit]

Community Information Center (CIC) or GPCIC is aimed at providing internet access and other communications services to rural areas. In February 2006, 26 CICs were established across the country as a pilot project.[22] In this project, Grameenphone provides GSM/EDGE/GPRS infrastructure and technical support and other partners Grameen Telecom Corporation and Society for Economic and Basic Advancement (SEBA), are involved in selecting and training entrepreneurs to run the village centers. The computers in these centers in the pilot project are used by an average of 30 people a day, who pay a small fee to access email or Web pages.[23] These CICs are used for a wide variety of business and personal purposes, from accessing health and agricultural information to using government services to video conferencing with relatives overseas. Grameenphone also trains the entrepreneurs so that they can give people advice on how to set up an e-mail account and best make use of the Internet.

CIC project is giving up to 20 million people the chance to use the Internet and e-mail for the first time. Following a successful pilot project, Grameenphone is going to set up approximately 560 centers in communities throughout Bangladesh by the end of 2006. The centers will be located in each Upazila (sub-district) of Bangladesh. As a result, up to 15 villages containing up to 40,000 people will be within reach of each CIC. In this information center, there will be personal computers connected to Grameenphone's existing GSM mobile network, which has been upgraded with EDGE technology to offer data transfer speeds of up to 16 kilobytes per second.[24]

Grameenphone Centers[edit]

A gpc at Gulshan, Dhaka.
A franchised gpc at Tejgaon, Dhaka.

A grameenphone center (GPC) serves as a "one stop solution" for customers, with all telecommunications products and services, under a single roof. A grameenphone center also sells phones from vendors like Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sagem and Benq. EDGE/GPRS modems and accessories such chargers and headphones are also sold at GPCs.

As of February 2013, there are 85[25] GPCs and they are strategically located at all major locations of the country is operated by Grameenphone. As of late most of the newly opened gpc's are franchised. Most of these franchised outlets are in non-metropolitan areas.

The GPCs also provide the flexiload service without charging extra for small denominations unlike many retailers in the country. Thus making the gpc's and ideal place for many for such a service.

Every once a while, the GPCs tie up with handset manufactures and start a nationwide marketing scheme by selling the specific vendors products at a price lower than the market's or in bundle with a grameenphone connection loaded with free minutes.

Awards[edit]

  1. Grameenphone received the GSM in the Community Award at the global GSM Congress held in Cannes, France in February 2000 for its Village Phone initiative.[citation needed]
  2. In 2002, Grameenphone was adjudged the Best Joint Venture Enterprise of the Year at the Bangladesh Business Awards.[26]
  3. Grameenphone was presented with the GSM Association's Global Mobile Award for ‘Best use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development' under Bridging the digital divide category at the 3GSM World Congress held in Singapore, in October 2006, for its Community Information Center (CIC) project.[citation needed]
  4. In the next year, 2007, Grameenphone was again presented with the same award for its `HealthLine Service' at the 3GSM World Congress held in Barcelona, Spain, in February.[27]

Criticism[edit]

Illegal VoIP operations[edit]

In October, 2007 the Government of Bangladesh fined Grameenphone USD 24.5 million for illegally depriving the government of revenue by ignoring laws requiring private operators to use the state-owned BTTB land phone network for international calls by its subscribers, when they used Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to receive such calls.[28]

It soon emerged that GP was making a bigger business out of VoIP operations than initially stated. They were providing a host of ISPs and operators services that enabled VoIP. In December 2007, Grameenphone's corporate office was raided by government agencies and documents were confiscated. This was in connection to Grameenphone providing VoIP equipment and services to an ISP, AccessTel. This fact was not disclosed by Grameenphone when it was fined just two months ago. Grameenphone representatives commented “some additional irregularities were found” regarding Grameenphone providing special services to illegal VoIP operators.[29]

In January 2008, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has filed a case against GP's two former CEO's and other officials for involvement in illegal VoIP business.[30]

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has fined Grameenphone Tk 2500 Million for illegal VoIP business, the second time the country's largest mobile phone operator has been penalized for such rogue activities, the telecoms regulators announced in August 2008.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grameenphone Annual Report 2013
  2. ^ Grameenphone Annual Report 2013
  3. ^ Telenor Article on GP
  4. ^ Grameenphone Official site: Press Release
  5. ^ a b Grameenphone Official site: Press Release, Q3 2010 results
  6. ^ Grameenphone Official site
  7. ^ Harvard Business Review Case Study: Iqbal Quadir, Gonofone, and the Creation of GrameenPhone (Bangladesh
  8. ^ Economist article, March 9, 2006
  9. ^ Asia Week, June 21, 2001
  10. ^ [://www.grameenphone.com/index.php?id=63 Grameenphone Official Site, History]
  11. ^ Grameenphone Official Site Prepaid
  12. ^ Grameenphone Official Site Postpaid
  13. ^ Grameenphone Official Site, History
  14. ^ Gremeenphone Official Site Billpay
  15. ^ Grameenphone Official Site Cellbazaar
  16. ^ http://www.grameenphone.com/about-us/corporate-information/corporate-responsibility
  17. ^ a b c http://www.grameenphone.com/about-us/corporate-information/corporate-responsibility/health
  18. ^ http://www.grameenphone.com/about-us/corporate-information/corporate-responsibility/education
  19. ^ http://www.grameenphone.com/about-us/corporate-information/social-initiatives/village-phone
  20. ^ http://www.grameenphone.com/about-us/corporate-information/social-initiatives/community-information-center
  21. ^ GSM World press release 17 October 2006, About Grameenphone section
  22. ^ http://www.telegeography.com/cu/article.php?article_id=13349 Telegeography Article
  23. ^ GSM Association press release
  24. ^ GSM World press release 17 October 2006
  25. ^ Grameenphone Official site :: Location of Grameenphone Centers
  26. ^ Local News of Bangladesh Business & Finance News Sunday March 16, 2003
  27. ^ GSM Association press release, Category 6, 6a
  28. ^ http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5ippy5Zc2EKDkB2Clapc1YOHOb7Mg
  29. ^ http://thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=14564
  30. ^ http://www.bdnews24.com/details.php?cid=2&id=37708
  31. ^ http://www.bauani.org/thinkings/2008/08/bdnews24-grameenphone-fined-tk-250.html

External links[edit]