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Bangladesh - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 18 Apr 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 116

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

Bangladesh prepares for 5G launches

Bangladesh ranks among the most densely populated countries globally. However, economic constraints over the last few decades has resulted in under-investment in network infrastructure, with the result that the country has an under-developed fixed-line market, with the fixed-line penetration rate being the lowest in South Asia.

Related to the poor fixed-line infrastructure is the very low fixed broadband penetration rate, a situation compounded by the preference among consumers to adopt mobile broadband solutions for their data needs. To address these shortcomings the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the revival of the NGN modernisation project to be undertaken by Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL). In the years to 2024 steady growth is expected to arise from these efforts.

Bangladesh’s mobile market is also relatively under-developed, though it has experienced strong growth over the last six years. Operators have trialled 5G and the BTRC is expected to auction spectrum for 5G services before the end of 2020, aiming to provide national 5G coverage by 2026.

Slow to moderate mobile subscriber growth is predicted in coming years, with constraints to stronger growth coming from intense local competition and from additional taxes in the national budget which are expected to dampen consumer use of services.

Bangladesh has also seen a very rapid increase in mobile broadband penetration over the past five years, though it remains well below most other Asian countries. Growth is being driven by a rising number of mobile subscribers able to access faster download speeds on LTE networks. An unprecedented level of investment among telcos during 2018 and 2019 extended the footprint of LTE infrastructure and laid the groundwork for operators to launch 5G services from 2021.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key Developments:

  • The mobile market has seen significant market consolidation over the past few years.
  • The first test run of 5G technology in Bangladesh took place in Dhaka.
  • The BTRC issued a directive on allowing IoT for smart buildings and automation industries.
  • Overall fixed line penetration dropped slightly from 2013 to 2018.
  • Strong growth is of mobile broadband subscribers is predicted over the next five years.
  • Report update includes an assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL); Grameenphone; CityCell (PBTL); Banglalink; Robi; Teletalk; Airtel Bangladesh; Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL).

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