More than 4.85 million customers are now said to have signed up for 3G services in Bangladesh, bdnews24.com reports, citing a statement made by the local telecoms regulator, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). With the country’s total mobile subscriber base said to have risen to 116.87 million at the end of July 2014, according the watchdog’s data, this was up from 109.35 million a year earlier. However, it was the growth in 3G accesses that arguably proved more notable, with such subscribers increasing more than six-fold to 4.85 million at end-July 2014 from the 770,000 reportedly active at end-November 2013.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in September 2013 the BTRC awarded the country’s four largest private sector cellcos – GrameenPhone, Banglalink, Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh – 3G UMTS (2100MHz/1900MHz) licences, raising BDT40.8 billion (USD525 million) for government coffers via the sale of 2×25MHz of spectrum. 2G market leader GrameenPhone was the sole bidder in the first round, buying a 2×10MHz concession at USD21 million per MHz, followed by Banglalink, Robi and Airtel each purchasing 2×5MHz licences in a second round, also at USD21 million per MHz. With state-owned Teletalk having benefitted from a head start in the 3G market with the launch of its W-CDMA network in October 2012, the aforementioned prices also set the rate that it was required to pay for its 3G 2100MHz spectrum.