Recently-merged Bangladeshi mobile operators Robi Axiata and Airtel have begun integrating their networks in Sylhet, the latest region reached by the integration project which has so far been completed in Chittagong, Comilla, Khulna, Noakhali, Barisal and Kushtia. Robi claims that existing Airtel subscribers can now enjoy almost ‘double’ their previous network coverage across the listed regions, alongside improved 3G mobile data speeds due to the integration of the former standalone operators’ 2100MHz 3G spectrum. Airtel Bangladesh network users activating the option to switch to the combined network receive free one-off bonus mobile data allowances as an incentive.
Rival Bangladeshi cellco Banglalink, meanwhile, has earmarked USD100 million in annual investment for network expansion, according to The Financial Express quoting the CEO of the company’s parent group VimpelCom, who stated: ‘Over the last twelve years … Banglalink has invested around USD2.4 billion in Bangladesh,’ adding that the 2G/3G operator is technically ‘ready’ to launch 4G LTE, but is focusing on bolstering its fibre-optic backbone/backhaul infrastructure nationwide to cope with the increased data demand when 4G is introduced. As reported by CommsUpdate earlier this week, the Bangladeshi authorities intend to give permission for LTE launches in existing 2G-only frequency bands ‘as soon as possible’, followed by an additional 4G spectrum auction ‘in four months’.