Bangladesh Among Asia Stop Mobile Markets

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Bangladesh among Asia’s top 10 mobile markets On 08.15.06, In Mobile, By Editor has emerged as one of ’s top 10 mobile phone markets in terms of adding Net Subscribers, according to the chairman of GSM Asia Pacific, a regional forum of the Generalised System of Multiple Access (GSMA) mobile operators, reports BDNEWS. GSM Asia Pacific Chairman Mehboob Chowdhury warned that though Bangladesh the 8th top mobile market in Asia, ahead of Thailand and Philippines, it would be impossible to retain tha
  Bangladesh among Asia’s top 10mobile markets On 08.15.06, In Mobile, By Editor has emerged as one of ’s top 10 mobile phone markets in terms of addingNet Subscribers, according tothe chairman of GSM Asia Pacific, a regional forum of the Generalised System of Multiple Access (GSMA) mobile operators, reports BDNEWS.GSM Asia Pacific Chairman Mehboob Chowdhury warned that thoughBangladesh the 8th top mobile market in Asia, ahead of Thailand andPhilippines, it would be impossible to retain that position unless the governmentimmediately purged the industry of the ‘counterproductive’ policies and shook upthe telecomRegulators.Besides, the country has added 8.945 million GSMA mobile users in a single year — from July 2005 to June 2006, according to the latest figure of GSMA association.In an exclusive interview with the news agency, Chowdhury disclosed thatnow ranked eighth among the top 10 Asian mobile markets in terms of adding netsubscribers during January to March, 2006.Citing the data of Informal Telecoms and Media, a London-based research firm,he saidhas had 1.265 million new users during the first quarter of 2006. Thefigure is slightly lower than the net addition ofandcombined, and marginally lower than seventh-ranked’s first quarter intake., fifth on the list, has added more than two million mobile subscribers duringthis period, but its total clientele was smaller than whathad in the first quarter of 2006.GSM Asia Pacific chairman credited the cellular mobile operators with thisachievement while being critical of the government’s ‘pounding the industry withdisruptive policies’.“When the operators made new connections affordable and started slashing theCall Charges; the government came up with this disastrous tax last year. It was a bolt from the blue (for the operators) that slowed down the market for a while.”The new 8.945 million GSMA mobile users that have putin the global map is theresult of the operators’ continuous effort, Chowdhury pointed out.The new customers belong to the middle-to-lower income bracket that have beenperennially ‘harassed’ by the state-run Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone  Board (BTTB) in trying to get regular phone connections.“The private sector has salvaged them and that’s why the subscribersIdentity  module (SIM) tax is grossly an anti-people move, which the government shouldscrap ahead of the election.”“The market could have added at least four million more customers, there couldhave been an euphoric outbreak of tariff warand the government could haveearned more revenue from the boom (if the tax were not there)”, Chowdhury continued.Liking the slapping of SIM tax to killing theGoldengoose, he said this testifiesto ‘the government’s inability’ to understand the fundamentals of this business.He refused to give the government much credit for slashing the tax from mobilephone handsets.“The amount of tax the government has withdrawn from handset is theexact amount it has simultaneously imposed as SIM tax and the burdenremains unchanged for new customers”, pointed out Chowdhury, who wasGrameenPhone’s marketing director for five years andBanglalink ’sChief  Commercial Officer(CCO) for nearly a year until resigning recently .He said more than two billion people use GSM mobile phones worldwide,accounting for an 82.4 per cent penetration. Asia Pacific region alone boasts757.13 million GSMA mobile users and the figure is fast growing.“Every second 18 new GSM users are being added worldwide, which means morethan 1,000 customers in every minute and over 1.5 million new GSMA mobileusers per day.”Chowdhury said the next billion GSMA customers are mostly comingfrom,,,,,,and other similar economies.He recognised continuous investment as the key component for sustainablemobile phone market growth in.Effectivetelecommunications regulator y regime is, however, the precondition to wooing new investments and boosting competition.“TheBangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has become merely an extension of the taxation department and that is certainly notthe case with,or”, he said.“[And] That’s why theTelecom Markets of these South Asian countries have beenconsistently thriving.”More than 85 per cent of the mobile phone users have no access to the largestfixed telephone operator BTTB, the state-owned monopoly that has littlerelevance in today’s mobile market, Chowdhury regretted.“The mobile operators will not even bother to talk to the BTTB the moment thegovernment ends its monopoly on the international voice gateway”, he predicted.The BTTB’s denial to provideInterconnectionis a clear breach of the telecoms  law and resents the regulator’s ‘unfairConcession’ for BTTB on this issue, theformer Banglalink CCO said.The government is ‘draining’ public funds on ‘impractical projects’ like VoIPplatforms, he complained.“Besides, ignoring the country’s fundamental telecommunication needs, thegovernment is going to waste hundreds of millions of dollars in highly debatableand grossly unproductive supplier’s credit telecoms schemes”, he added.The government has to deploy reliable nationwide telecoms infrastructure andthen ensure the private sector’s equitable access to that resource, Chowdhury suggested.“This is what Pakistan, India and many other fast developing countries are doingand Bangladesh should waste no time to reinvent the wheel”, he remarked. 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