Bangladesh has officially launched 3G mobile-phone services at a ceremony in Dhaka, where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina used the technology to make a phone call to President Zillur Rahman, reports Xinhua, China’s state-run news service.
The phone call used the network of state-run Teletalk (Dhaka, Bangladesh), whose 3G service will soon be available in Dhaka before being introduced to other parts of the country.
Government officials hope the technology will help them realize their vision of a Digital Bangladesh, accelerating the development of the telecoms industry and reducing the digital divide between cities and rural areas that are badly served with broadband infrastructure.
Authorities are also finalizing the rules for a 3G auction that will allow private-sector companies from Bangladesh and abroad to enter the 3G market in competition with Teletalk.
Bangladesh intends to sell four slots of bandwidth during that process. Officials have also said that Teletalk will have to pay the same amount for its 3G spectrum as the private-sector companies, even though it does not have to participate in the auction.
In June, the Bangladeshi government signed a loan agreement worth $211 million with the Export-Import Bank of China to support its introduction of 3G.
In the meantime, Ericsson (Stockholm, Sweden) and Huawei (Shenzhen, China) have been running trials of the technology in the country.
Bangladesh is home to five private-sector operators – Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel and Citycell – that have been pressurizing the government to award 3G licenses in the hope 3G services will boost the growth of the country’s telecoms market.
In August, Hasina said the regulator should award 3G licenses to private-sector players as soon as possible.