Bangladeshi state-owned mobile operator Teletalk is aiming to expand its 3G mobile network coverage to all of the country’s second-tier administrative sub-districts – upazilas – via network sharing with private sector cellcos, according to a statement to Parliament from Tarana Halim, the State Minister for the Posts & Telecommunications Division, under the Ministry of Posts, Telecoms & Information Technology (MoPTI). Quoted by BDNews, Halim told MPs: ‘all upazila headquarters and highways will be brought under 3G network by this December. 2G network will also be expanded into rural areas … We’ll be able to take Teletalk to the grassroots if we can share towers [with private sector operators].’ Under a wider development programme to accelerate the loss-making company’s financial recovery, the State Minister has also backed a ‘rebranding’ plan involving a new logo, website, packages and a modernised customer service system, with a target date of February 2016. Alongside the brand refreshment, Teletalk has earmarked deployment of 1,000 new 2G/3G base stations across the country, according to officials. Teletalk currently has 3,750 base stations, of which 1,562 are 3G sites, and has covered 476 upazila headquarters (of around 480 nationwide) with 2G technology but its 3G coverage is available at only 91 upazilas. Teletalk wants to use post offices in remote areas to assist its expansion as well as ‘union digital centres’ to set up rural base stations and has sought the State Minister’s support for the programme. In response to parliamentary questions, Halim added that she sought investment pledges and soft loans for the development of Teletalk during a recent visit to South Korea. The cellco’s management is targeting ten million subscribers (its current network capacity) by December 2016. TeleGeography says that Teletalk reported 4.11 million total 2G/3G mobile subscribers at end-September 2015, down from 4.22 million three months earlier (although up from 4.04 million six months previously), and is easily the smallest of five Bangladeshi GSM players, with roughly 3.3% of the overall cellular market, despite having the longest-established 3G UMTS network in Bangladesh – launched in October 2012.
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