A senior official of Bangladesh’s mobile market leader GrameenPhone has told the Dhaka Tribune that it plans to enter the fixed WiMAX broadband market in a proposed partnership with two local ISPs, Agni Systems and ADN Telecom, involving the sharing of branding, network infrastructure and customer care facilities. According to Agni’s chief technology officer Mozammel Haque, the USB dongle modem-based service will be launched within five to six months under the name ‘Go Broadband’, while the WiMAX network is being set up under initial investment of BDT150 million (USD1.9 million), using Chinese equipment which has already been delivered. The planned joint service has received approval from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), and will utilise GrameenPhone’s backbone network capacity and the respective fixed-wireless frequency resources of Agni (3.5GHz band) and ADN (formerly known as Advanced Data Network Systems, also reportedly holding 3.5GHz spectrum), while the customer billing systems will remain separate.
CommsUpdate reported last month that ADN – which currently offers broadband connectivity to corporate clients in Dhaka via wireless and wireline connections – had obtained new funding of at least BDT135 million and revealed plans to expand services in partnership with Agni Systems, while it was disclosed that the joint plan involved sharing GrameenPhone’s infrastructure. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that both ADN and Agni also hold nationwide IP Telephony Service Provider licences, while Agni has previously rolled out wireless broadband services in the 3.5GHz frequency range in Dhaka. It is assumed that the newly delivered WiMAX equipment for the Agni/ADN/GrameenPhone ‘Go Broadband’ venture will be based on the 802.16e (mobile-ready) technology standard, but with the mobile roaming capability disabled, as per the ISP’s fixed-only licences, similar to another Dhaka-based fixed-wireless WiMAX operator, Ollo. CommsUpdate reported yesterday that Ollo’s application for the country’s third nationwide mobile WiMAX 2.5GHz licence has been submitted by the BTRC for approval by the telecoms ministry.
TeleGeography notes that there is the potential for the Agni/ADN/GrameenPhone WiMAX project to be upgraded to a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) fixed-wireless service; the rollout is thought to involve new/existing 3.5GHz equipment from Huawei, ZTE and Airspan which may be LTE-enabled, subject to regulatory permission and additional fees.