Bangladeshi mobile market leader GrameenPhone has reported that a pilot project to provide internet access and other communications services to rural areas, ‘Community Information Centre’ (CIC), has met with success. Since February 2006 26 CICs have been established across the country. GrameenPhone’s partners in the project, Grameen Telecom Corporation and Society for Economic and Basic Advancement (SEBA), are involved in selecting and training entrepreneurs to run the village centres, whilst the cellco provides GSM/EDGE infrastructure and technical support.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database notes that 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. Village Phone works as an owner-operated GSM payphone whereby a borrower takes a BDT12,000 (USD200) loan from Grameen Bank to subscribe to GP and is then trained on how to operate it and how to charge others to use it at a profit; most Village Phone participants are women living in remote areas. At the end of 2004 (latest available official figures) there were more than 95,000 Village Phone operators in 28,000 villages across Bangladesh.