Telecommunications in Bangladesh
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The liberalisation of Bangladesh's telecommunications sector began with small steps in 1989 with the issuance of a licence to a private operator for the provision of inter alia cellular mobile services to compete with Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB), the previous monopoly provider of telecommunications services within Bangladesh. Significant changes in the number of fixed and mobile services deployed in Bangladesh occurred in the late 1990s and the number of services in operation have subsequently grown exponentially in the past five years.
The incentives both from government and public sectors have helped the industry grow and it is now one of the biggest industries in Bangladesh. As a populous country, its huge market has attracted many foreign investors.
The telecom sector in Bangladesh is rapidly emerging. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is the regulatory authority for this sector, overseeing licensing, policy, etc.
Landmarks in the history of telecom industry in Bangladesh
- 1853 : Telegraph branch under Posts and Telegraph Department, British India.
- 1971 : Reconstructed as Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Department under Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.
- 1975 : Reconstructed as Telegraph and Telephone Board.
- 1979 : Reconstructed as Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) with right to issue license for telecom and wireless services.
- 1981 : Digital Telex Exchange in Bangladesh.
- 1983 : Automatic Digital ITX started in Dhaka.
- 1985 : Coinbox Telephone service introduced in Bangladesh by BTTB.
- 1989 : GENTEX Telegraph messaging service introduced in Bangladesh.
- 1989 : Bangladesh Rural Telecom Authority got license to operate exchanges in 200 upazila.
- 1989 : Sheba Telecom got license to operate exchange is 199 upazila.
- 1989 : Cellular mobile phone company Pacific Bangladesh Telephone Limited and Bangladesh Telecom got license.
- 1995 : Card Telephone service introduced in Bangladesh by BTTB and TSS.
- 1995 : Regulatory power of BTTB transferred to Ministry (MoPT).
- 1995 : 2nd and 3rd ITX installed in Dhaka.fuad
- 1996 : GrameenPhone got cellular mobile Telephone license.
- 1996 : Telecom Malaysia International Bangladesh got cellular mobile license.
- 1998 : Telecom Policy.
- 2000 : Global Telecom Service (GTS) Telex Exchange venture with British Teleco.
- 2001 : Telecommunication Act, to establish Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
- 2002 : ICT Policy.
- 2004 : Teletalk cellular mobile launched.
- 2005 : Egypt-based Orascom acquired Sheba Telecom
- 2006 : NGN introduced in BTTB.
- 2008 : BTTB converted into Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL) with 100% shares owned by Government. The Submarine Cable Project transformed into Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL)
- 2008 : Japanese NTT DoCoMo bought 30 percent stake in Aktel
- 2009 : Bharti Airtel acquired 70 percent stake in Warid Telecom
- 2009 : Internet Protocol Telephony Service Provider (IPTSP) Operators launched.
- 2010 : Aktel rebranded to Robi Axiata Limited
- 2012 : 3G mobile service is introduced by state owned Teletalk in October.
- 2013 : 3G auction held for private companies
- 2014 : 64 districts covered with 3G by Teletalk Grameenphone, Banglalink and Robi
- 2016: Robi and Airtel were merged on 16 November 2016 and Robi set sail as the merged company.
- 2018 : 4G auction held for private companies
- 2018 : on 19 February 4G mobile service is introduced
As defined in the National Telecommunications Policy 1998 and International Long Distance Telecommunications Services (ILDTS) Policy 2007, all mobile operators is to interconnect through Interconnection Exchange (ICX) and all international calls to be handled by International Gateway (IGW) which is to be connected to the mobile and fixed operators through the ICXs.
The Interconnection Exchange (ICX) will receive all calls from the mobile and fixed operators whenever the call is made to other network and will pass it to the destination network if the call is local, and will pass to the IGWs if the call is international. ICX will also deliver calls received from IGWs where the call is destined.
Below illustrate the structure of interconnection between different interfaces.
Public switched telephone network
- Banglaphone Ltd.
- Integrated Services Limited (ISL) – branded under the name Sheba Phone
- Jalalabad Telecom Ltd. – branded under the name Bijoy Phone
- Onetel Communication Ltd.
- Ranks Telecom Ltd.
- S.A Telecom System Ltd.
- Westec Ltd.
- Dhaka Telephone Co. Ltd. – Currently off air, License cancelled by BTRC
- National Telecom Ltd. – Currently off air, License cancelled by BTRC
- Peoples Telecommunication and Information Services Ltd. – Currently off air, License cancelled by BTRC
- Tele Barta Ltd. – branded under the name Jubok phone – Currently off air
Mobile phone operators
There are four mobile phone operators in Bangladesh, operating under the names of Banglalink, Grameenphone, Robi and TeleTalk. The number of mobile phone subscribers in Bangladesh as of April 2015 was 124.705 million, having risen from the February 2009 figure of 45.21 million.
Long distance operators (as per ILDTS Policy 2007)
On 25 February 2008 the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission awarded licenses for two Interconnection Exchanges (ICX), three International Gateways (IGw), and one International Internet Gateway (IIG) to six firms through an open auction in February 2008. The incumbent BTTB got the same licenses too. And after then on 12 April 2012 the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission awarded licenses for twenty one Interconnection Exchanges (ICX), twenty two International Gateways (IGw), and thirty International Internet Gateway (IIG)Here is the list of all operators:
International Gateway (IGW) operators
- Tech Panacea
- Mir Telecom LTD
- 1Asia Alliance Gateway
- Bangladesh International Gateway
- Bangla Tel Ltd
- Bangla Trac Communications
- Bestec Telecom
- BG Tel
- Cel Telecom
- DBL Telecom
- DigiCon Telecommunications
- First Communications
- Global Voice Telecom
- HRC Technologies
- Hub Tel
- LR Telecom Ltd.
- Kay Telecommunications
- Mos5 Tel
- Platinum Communications Ltd
- Ratul Telecom
- Roots Communication
- Sigma Engineers
- SM Communication
- SongBird Telecom (formerly Hamid Sourcing)
- SVM Telecom LP
- Unitrac Communications
- Vision Tel
- Venus Telecom LTD
- Carrier Voice UK LTD
Interconnection Exchange (ICX) operators
- M & H Telecom LTD
- Jibondhara Solutions Ltd.
- Summit ICX
- Bangla ICX Ltd.
- Agni ICX
- Apex Communication Pvt Ltd
- GAZI Networks Ltd
- GETCO ICX
- Imam Network Ltd.
- Jibondhara ICX
- Ring Tech Communications Limited
- MicroTrade ICX
- Mother Telecom
- New Generation Telecom Ltd
- Paradise ICX
- Purple Telecom Limited
- Crossworld Telecom Ltd.
- SR Telecom
- Tele Exchange Ltd.
- Teleplus Network Ltd
- Verterx Telecom
- Voicetel Ltd.
- Bantel Limited.
- Sengupta Telecom
International Internet Gateway (IIG) operator
- Aamra Companies
- 1Asia Alliance Communication
- Abir Telecommunication
- Apple Communication
- Bangla Phone Ltd
- BD Link Communication Ltd
- Delta Infocom
- Earth Telecommunication
- Equitel Communications
- Fiber @ Home
- Global Fair Communications
- Greenland Technologies
- Intraglobe Communications
- Level3 Carrier
- ADN International Gateway Limited. Formerly Managewell Communication Ltd
- Mango Teleservices
- MaxNet Online
- PeerEx Networks Limited
- Radiant Communications Limited
- REGO Communications
- CiTYCOM NETWORK
- Summit Communications Limited
Internet Protocol Telephony Service Provider (IPTSP) operators
On 18 August 2009 the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission commenced awarding licenses for IPTSP. IPTSP operators are regulated by the BTRC. Current IPTSP operators in Bangladesh are:
- MetroNet Bangladesh Ltd.
- Icon Infotech Ltd.(prefix-09644)
- Amber IT Ltd.
- Telnet Communication Ltd.
- Link3 Technologies Ltd. (prefix-09678)
- BDCOM Online Ltd.
- Access Telecom (BD) Ltd.
- ADN Telecom Ltd. (formerly Advanced Data Network Systems Ltd)
- Agni Systems Ltd.
- Rightsoft Systems.
- Akceycom Ltd.
- Akij Online Ltd.
- Bangladesh Export Import Company Ltd.
- Bangladesh Internet Exchange Ltd.
- BEXIMCO AND SQUARE
- BRACNet Ltd.
- Broad Band Telecom Services Ltd.
- BTS Communications (BD) Ltd., branded as UbernetBD
- Communication One (Pvt.) Ltd.
- Connect BD Ltd.
- Cyber Net Communications
- dhakaCom Ltd.
- Digital Connectivity Ltd.
- ERGO Ventures Ltd.
- Global Access Ltd.
- HRC Technologies Ltd.
- Idea Networks And Communications Ltd.
- IDS Bangladesh
- Information Services Network Ltd.
- Innovative Online Ltd.
- InterCloud Ltd.
- IS PROS Ltd.
- MaxNet Online
- Manor IT Ltd.
- Link3 Technologies Ltd. (prefix-09678)
- Nreach Net (Pvt.) Ltd.
- Pritty International (Pvt) Ltd.
- Ranks ITT Ltd.
- Royal Green Online Ltd.
- X-Net Ltd.
- TeleBangla Communications Ltd.
- RED Data (Pvt) Ltd.
- Triangle Services LTD
- Fusion Net
- Grameen Cybernet Ltd.
- IT Connect Ltd.
- J F Optical Services
- M/s. Media & Multimedia
- Next Online Ltd. (Nextfone)
- SADIATEC Ltd.
- Sine-10 (BD) Ltd.
- Chittagong Online Ltd.
- Chittagong Telecom Services Ltd.
- First n Fast IT Ltd.
- HN TELECOM
International Terrestrial Cable (ITC) operator
- 1Asia Alliance Communication
- BD Link Communication Ltd
- Fiber @ Home
- Mango Teleservices
- Summit Communications
Radio broadcast stations: AM 12, FM 12, shortwave 2, community radio 1, internet radios
Radios: 6.15 million (1997)
The government owned Betar-Radio Bangladesh operates from Dhaka and other local districts. Currently, the private FM radio channels are very popular. They are trying to attract young people by broadcasting music and news. The operating private radio channels include:
- dhakaFM 90.4 FM
- Radio Amber 102.4 FM
- Radio Today 89.6FM
- Radio Foorti 88.0FM
- Radio Amar 88.4FM
- Radio Metrowave
- ABC Radio
- Peoples Radio 91.6 FM
As of 2012 there are 23 broadcast television stations in Bangladesh, including the state-run BTV and BTV World, with 20 million television sets in the country.
The number of private satellite channels is growing. The first private channel in Bangladesh was ATN Bangla. There are 5 full-fledged news channels (Somoy TV, ATN News, Independent Television, Ekattor TV and Jamuna TV). Gaan Bangla,Channel-16 TV new name Music Bangla the first full-time music channel in Bangladesh, commenced operations by 16 December 2011.
The first connectivity in Bangladesh with the internet was in 1996. In the past few years growth has been rapid. The government's high internet tariff is impeding the growth of this sector, claim Norwegian owned Telenor. Recently the government has decided to reduce the tariff 50%.
The internet country code of Bangladesh is .bd.
As of 2005 more than 180 Internet Service Providers are operating in the country. ISP's are regulated by the Bangladesh telecommunication regulatory commission (BTRC).
The number of internet users in Bangladesh as of March 2009 is over 600,000, compared to 100,000 in 2000. However, only 0.3% of the population use the internet, thus making Bangladesh the lowest usage percentage per population of the internet in the world with the exception of North Korea, Myanmar and Sierra Leone.
In April 2010 Akhtaruzzaman Manju, president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of Bangladesh, told Xinhua that the country's six cell phone operators and Internet Service Providers have so far provided over 800,000 internet connections. "We've estimated that nearly 10 million people in the country are using 800,000 internet connections on a shared basis," he said, adding the number of internet users in the country is increasing yearly by around 15–16 percent.
A 2009 study by the Boston Consulting Group found that the number of Internet subscribers in Bangladesh is likely to reach 18.3 million by the year 2020, equivalent to a 32 percent household Internet penetration, which will result in a 2.6 per cent contribution to the country's GDP while creating 129,000 more jobs, the research added.
Broadband Internet access
Though broadband internet access is available, the cost of high speed connection is higher than in other south Asian countries. Broadband internet and e-commerce in Bangladesh is slowly progressing. WiMAX service is now available from some internet service providers. In Bangladesh broadband is legally defined as 128/128 kbit/s, which is not in line with ITU standards.
The ISPs currently providing broadband services in Bangladesh are:
There are 6 satellite earth stations. Talimabad, Betbunia are two of them. Some info shows that the number is now 7. Bangladesh has send its first ever satellite Bangabandhu-1 into space in MAY 11 2018.
Bangladesh is connected to SEA-ME-WE 4 or SMW-4 (South-East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 4) and SEA-ME-WE 5 submarine cable systems. The landing site of the SMW-4 Bangladesh branch is located in Cox's Bazaar and the landing site of the SMW-5 Bangladesh branch is located in Kuakata. The two submarine cables provide the Country with Redundancy to support uninterrupted internet and long-distance communications and also with a huge bandwidth. Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited is the only submarine cable operator in Bangladesh.
- Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited
- Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation
- Doel (laptop)
- Media of Bangladesh
- Chronological Development of Telecommunication Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- "Bangladesh Enters 3G Era, Putting Telecom Growth on Fast Track". Fox Business. 14 October 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- "Teletalk Launches Bangladesh's First 3G Network". Cellular News. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- "Robi sets sail as the Merged Company".
- ফোরজি সেবা পেতে যা করতে হবে. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). 18 February 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- National Telecommunications Policy 1998 Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Archived 3 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "Mobile Phone Subscribers in Bangladesh April 2015". BTRC. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
- Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Archived 8 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "Songbird Telecom Limited". www.songbirdtelecom.com. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Internet Protocol Telephony Service Provider (IPTSP) Archived 7 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Xinhua Archived 20 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- ISPs association Bangladesh Archived 19 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- #BD mobile Internet Usage Stats
- "Internet users (per 100 people) | Data | Table". Data.worldbank.org. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
- "Roundup: Internet use on rise in Bangladesh". iStockAnalyst. Archived from the original on 3 May 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
- "Internet subscribers may reach 18.3m by 2020". Financial Express. Dhaka. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
- spumail (4 April 2011). "Birth of Broadband – Frequently Asked Questions". Itu.int. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
- Media and Telecommunications Lansdcape Guide in Bangladesh, a 'infoasaid' guide, May 2012, 135 pp.