Wait for a telco for six years, and then 19 turn up at once…

27 Jun 2007

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is planning to award licences to operate in the Dhaka metropolitan area to all of the country’s 19 provincial fixed line telephony licensees, reports local newspaper The New Nation. The regulator plans to transform existing zonal PSTN licences into national concessions to include the capital city, which remains underserved by incumbent telco Bangladesh Telegraph & Telephone Board (BTTB). According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the BTRC began issuing licences in May 2004 after dividing the country into five regions: central (Dhaka metropolitan); north-east (Sylhet and greater Dhaka); south-east (Chittagong and Comilla); south-west (Barisal and Khulna); and north-west (Rajshahi and Rangpur). However, it refrained from offering concessions for the central zone pending an agreement with WorldTel, an operator which had received a Dhaka PSTN licence in July 2001 with exclusivity rights. Despite repeated announcements that it was preparing to launch WiLL services, WorldTel never managed to roll out a single line.

The central zone, covering Dhaka city (population 6.9 million), Zinjira, Savar, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Tongi, accounts for around 60% of telecoms demands in the country of 140 million people, according to the BTRC. BTTB has over 600,000 subscribers in the capital, according to The New Nation, whilst GlobalComms estimates that there is unmet demand for at least 250,000 fixed lines from Dhaka businesses and residents.


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