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Our quality of 3G services will be very good

Jon Fredrik Baksaas President, Telenor

Jon Fredrik Baksaas
President, Telenor

The country will become a mature mobile market in the next few years, said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, president of Telenor, Grameenphone’s majority shareholder.

“We have seen phenomenal development in the ICT sector in Bangladesh. It took us more than 15 years to connect with 50 percent of Bangladesh, but for the next 50 percent it will only take a handful of years,??? he told The Daily Star in an interview.

Baksaas was in Dhaka recently for the soft launch of Grameenphone’s 3G services, for which the company paid $210 million.

The advent of 3G, he says, will accelerate the country’s development.

“People will have access to the internet everywhere, which means they would be never far from services such as healthcare and banking. This will help the economy grow.???
Grameenphone, which has already rolled out 3G services in certain parts of Dhaka, plans to cover the remaining areas of the capital together with Chittagong, Sylhet, Gazipur and Narayanganj within the next few weeks.

“Most of the country barring some pockets will be covered in the next 2-3 years. And in the long run, those parts, too, would be brought under the 3G network.???

Telenor, which owns 55.8 percent of Grameenphone, is very gung-ho about the company’s role in the country’s next phase of telecommunication.

For enhanced 3G connectivity for Grameenphone’s 43.96 million-odd subscribers, some 2,000 base transceiver stations would be set up across several cities over the next six months to support the 12,000 already in existence.

“Our quality of 3G services will be very good,??? said Baksaas, who has been with Telenor since 1989.

To take 3G services to a greater number of people, Telenor is already in talks with a host of vendors to come up with low-cost but good-quality 3G-enabled phones or smartphones, which remain beyond the means of the majority of the country’s population.
“Less than 10 percent of the country’s population have smartphones, which is an obstacle for 3G services.???

The prices of smartphones now start at $60, but he thinks it should come down to $40.

To date, Telenor has invested about $3 billion to develop the infrastructure and network of Grameenphone, the country’s largest mobile operator.

“There will be many more significant investments in the next couple of years. I cannot tell you the exact figure but we are talking big money over a long period of time.??? The company has also paid more than $3 billion to the Bangladesh government in taxes, he added.

Telenor, whose global subscription base stands at 150 million, has big plans for the neighbouring Myanmar, where it is one of the two operators chosen from 95 candidates to offload mobile services.

“Myanmar needs to go on the same development path. Why should your neighbouring country not enjoy the same modern communication system that you do? Of course they should.???

Telenor plans to roll out services in Myanmar next year and Baksaas is hopeful that Telenor’s strong track record in serving Asian countries will put it in good stead.

“We are happy that the long term experience in the Asian market will strengthen us in serving the Burmese people.???


-Abdullah Mamun/http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/bangladesh-telecoms-set-for-faster-growth/

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