Bharti partners with international vendors in Bangladesh

15 November 2010 |


Bharti Airtel has partnered with Ericsson and Huawei to expand and develop its mobile network in Bangladesh as the companies develop affordable services for consumers and aid telecoms growth.

Following on from Bharti’s successful network models in India and Sri Lanka, the Indian operator will manage the partnership, which requires Ericsson to manage network capacity and Huawei to upgrade networks in eastern Bangladesh. The overall aim is to improve voice quality and enable faster data access to facilitate increased internet usage. Bharti acquired a 70% stake in Bangladeshi operator Warid Telecom in January 2010 and established its mobile network, resulting in increased competition that saw subscriber base rise to nearly 62 million in the region – a rise that was also fuelled by strong economic growth and six domestic operators competing for market share.

Peter Evans, senior research analyst at Buddecomm, said: “With avpopulation of 165 million people, Bangladesh’s people have been involved in the creation of a very competitive mobile telephone market. Most noticeable has been the willingness of Bangladesh to encourage foreign participation in this endeavour.”

Despite covering the whole Bangladeshi market, Bharti places an emphasis on providing additional services in rural parts of the country to provide more advanced business applications, entertainment operations and an evolved mobile services platform in underserved markets. Buddecomm notes that fixed-line teledensity in the telecoms market remains the lowest in south Asia and internet penetration was as low as 0.4% by the end of 2009, with subscriber rates even lower.

“With almost 99% of homes lacking a telephone and with a substantial waiting list for fixed-line services in Bangladesh, the country is still struggling with some of the most underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure in the world,” said Evans. “Interestingly, about 80% of Bangladesh’s 1.7 million fixed telephone services were to be found in its four main cities and most of these had been provided by the state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board.”

India’s state-owned telco BSNL and Bangladesh’s BTCL have also confirmed the terrestrial cable between the two countries could, at the time of going to press, be completed by early November 2010. The new cable will be an addition to the SeaMeWe4 subsea cable, which is the only cable linking the two countries at present. The 25km backbone has taken a year to complete and links the Darshana region in Bangladesh with Krishno Nagar in India.