The country makes the foray into fourth-generation mobile internet era today in a move that would open up a new chapter of digital connectivity and take the government's Digital Bangladesh Vision a little closer to reality.
Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink, the three largest operators, will offer the 4G service to their customers in major cities as soon as they obtain the licence from the telecom regulator in the evening.
Mobile operators said the service would enhance customers' daily life and improve the service quality of trade and business. E-education and e-health will also flourish thanks to the 4G.
“4G is monumental for Bangladesh,” said Michael Foley, chief executive officer of GP, one of the four operators due to get the licence.
“4G is a fundamental part of Bangladesh's national digital infrastructure and it will help the country move forward,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will hand over the licences to the three operators and state-run Teletalk at a ceremony at Dhaka Club. At an event in the city's Westin hotel yesterday, market leader GP said it would launch the 4G service within 15 minutes of getting the licence. “Our 4G journey starts when we have the licence in hand, and so does the journey for many of our valued customers,” said Foley.
GP has so far replaced about one crore 4G SIMs out of its 6.5 crore connections.
The operator is focusing mainly Dhaka and some parts of Chittagong and Sylhet as part of its initial launch.
“As soon as we make any of our towers ready for the 4G, it will go live immediately. So, the network coverage will expand every hour,” said Yasir Azman, deputy CEO and chief marketing officer of GP.
Two other top operators also said they would introduce the service today.
“Within a few minutes of receiving the 4G licence, Robi will launch its 4G service,” Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, managing director and CEO of Robi, said in a statement.
A senior official of Robi, the second-largest operator, said it is going to launch the service in a good number of cities including Dhaka and Chittagong. Last night, Robi began using technology neutrality, becoming the first operator to do so.
Tech neutrality allows operators to offer any service in any band efficiently. It also helps them cut the cost of doing business.
Banglalink is targeting large cities such as Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, and Sylhet for the launch today.
In a statement, Erik Aas, CEO of Banglalink, said the company is enthusiastically looking forward to the highly anticipated 4G launch. “4G will take Bangladesh towards a digital future opening up innumerable possibilities,” he said.
He said Banglalink has been playing a pioneering role in bringing change to people's lives through technology since its inception. “Tomorrow [Monday] we will go one step closer to our vision of building a truly digital Bangladesh.”
Teletalk, however, will not go for the 4G service immediately even if it gets the licence as its network is not ready yet. The state-run operator deposited Tk 10 crore for the 4G licence to the BTRC.
A senior official of the company said it would take a couple of months for Teletalk to launch the service.
Yesterday, GP introduced two 4G-enabled co-branded smartphones: WE T1 and Micromax Canvas 1. WE T1 is priced at Tk 4,444 and Micromax Canvas-1 Tk 7,599.
Speaking at the event, the GP CEO said it strives to provide customers the best experience on the best technology and product. “It is our intention to provide the best 4G experience to our customers on the most affordable handsets. 4G can be a game changer for many data users. For customers to get the best experience on our network they will need the right smartphones.”
Foley said GP's 4G network would cover the whole country faster than it took in case of the 3G rollout. “Customers will be happy with our service.”
Brigadier General Md Nasim Parvez, director general of the BTRC's spectrum management division, Syed Farhad Ahmed, managing director of Aamra Holdings Ltd, and Vikas Jain, co-founder of Micromax Informatics Ltd, also spoke on the occasion.