Call drops occur in Bangladesh due to its population density and infrastructural limitations
Banglalink, which came out on top in terms of spectrum per subscriber at the most expensive spectrum auction in the world last week, is now looking forward to ensuring better service quality for its customers.
Call drops occur in Bangladesh due to its population density and infrastructural limitations, such as the low amount of spectrum and slow data speed via fibre optic cables, said Erik Aas, CEO of Banglalink.
“Most of the operators could not invest in network expansions due to tower sharing guideline's complexity and the pandemic,” he added.
Aas, an experienced figure in the telecom industry, shared his views in a meet-up session with journalists on Monday at the Banglalink head office.
“We acquired the additional 9.4MHz spectrum in the auction at the lowest price; it was close to the base price. We hope to provide better service to customers with this additional spectrum,” he said.
The quality of services is expected to improve significantly as soon as the operator starts using the spectrum, Aas added.
Even before the recent auction, Banglalink’s spectrum per subscriber was the highest among all private operators in the country.
Banglalink participated in the auction to serve its customers in a more significant way with more spectrum, and finally accomplished it by completing the bidding process successfully, the CEO said.
The operator will have to invest around Tk 1,000 crore for the newly acquired spectrum. As part of its commitment to the Bangladeshi market, Banglalink wants to maintain the investment trend in the future, said Aas.
Things began to look up for Banglalink after its 4G launch and acquisition of additional spectrum back in 2018.
Since then, its growth has been quite consistent. At the recent spectrum auction organised by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), Banglalink acquired 4.4MHz spectrum in the 1,800MHz band and 5MHz spectrum in 2,100MHz band, increasing its total spectrum holding from 30.6MHz to 40MHz.
With the acquisition of the new spectrum, Banglalink will now provide services to around 9 lakh subscribers with 1MHz of spectrum.
Despite operating amid various challenges in 2020, the company maintained satisfactory performance throughout the year, according to the operator.
In 2020, its total revenue growth and data revenue growth were 0.7 per cent and 22.8 per cent year-on-year, respectively.
Banglalink’s data customer-base also grew by 5.7 per cent year-on-year in this period. Most importantly, Banglalink succeeded to register a 0.3 per cent year-on-year growth in its revenue market share in 2020.
“While the total revenue earned by the telecom industry dropped slightly, Banglalink’s revenues surged. Banglalink’s data revenue market share also increased by 0.4 per cent year-on-year in 2020,” said Aas.
The total revenue of the mobile operators last year was Tk 26,080 crore, which was Tk 26,380 crore in 2019.
Total revenue in the telecom industry is decreasing due to customers’ growing reliance on over the top (OTT) platforms such as Messenger, IMO, WhatsApp, Signal, and Viber for making voice calls, the Banglalink CEO said.
Banglalink’s biggest achievement in 2020 came in the form of two consecutive Ookla Speedtest Awards.
Ookla recognised Banglalink as the fastest mobile network in the country twice in a row.
“It shows how consistent we have been in providing quality digital services to customers. Currently, we are operating with around 10,000 towers, of which 92 per cent are 4G activated. Banglalink’s 4G users in 2020 grew by 116 per cent. The newly acquired spectrum will accelerate our nationwide network expansion,” Aas mentioned.
Asked about the introduction of 5G network in the country, Aas said that proper telecom infrastructure is the precondition of launching such highly advanced technology.
Banglalink has no target to secure the top position in terms of the number of subscribers,” Aas further said.
But it is more important to them to satisfy the customers with stable revenue.
“It does not matter to a customer if we are number two or number three,” he added.
Banglalink Chief Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Officer Taimur Rahman, Acting CTO Hasnat Reza Mahbub Alam, and Head of Corporate Communications and Sustainability Ankit Sureka were also present at the meeting.