Bangladesh Internet Exchange Ltd (BIEL) – part of the ‘Ollo’ wireless broadband venture – demonstrated 4G LTE FDD mobile broadband technology to journalists, government personnel and the telecoms industry on 7 April 2014 in Dhaka, and claimed the first LTE FDD trial network in the country. The ISP revealed it has begun LTE network rollout in the capital using equipment provided by China’s ZTE, and plans to continue deploying the 4G network across the city before expanding to other regions including ‘remote areas’ to fulfil its Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licence obligations to support the Digital Bangladesh programme, aimed at bridging the digital divide while helping implement e-government and mobile banking initiatives. BIEL’s press release added that it has demonstrated a range of user devices from major vendors on its trial LTE network with connection speed of ‘over 100Mbps’. At this early stage in the rollout it has yet to be decided if the 4G LTE service will be launched commercially under the existing (currently WiMAX-based) Ollo brand, or whether a new brand will be chosen, the marketing manager for BIEL/Ollo told TeleGeography.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, BIEL’s BWA licence was officially granted on 20 November 2013 by the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and the USD31 million licence fee paid in full on 4 February 2014. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Ollo is a joint venture between two Bangladeshi ISPs – BIEL and New Generation Graphics Limited (NGGL) – and the former’s Russian-based parent company Multinet, which bought BIEL in 2011 and injected capital into the newly formed Ollo joint brand, with additional investment from the Russian ICT Group. Currently Ollo offers WiMAX (802.16e) 3.5GHz fixed-wireless internet in Dhaka (where the mobile capabilities of the technology were previously disabled under the joint venture’s fixed licences), but its November 2013 BWA licence win allows it to offer mobility (data-only) and includes a new allocation of 2500MHz-2690MHz band spectrum for LTE-based services.