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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Bangladesh opens telecoms sector
Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited advertisement
More mobile phone licences are on offer
Bangladesh plans to further privatise its telecoms sector by inviting firms to bid for mobile, satellite and fixed line telephone licences.

Three or four mobile licences would be issued this year, a fixed-line phone licence by June 2003 and the use of satellite phones legalised and foreign companies allowed to operate the service.


As the regulator, BTRC will ensure an equal level playing field for telecom operators

Syed Marghub Morshed, BTRC
"We wish to encourage to encourage pluralistic tendencies in a sector that was controlled by government monopolies," Syed Marghub Morshed, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) told the BBC's World Business Report.

Internet telephony will also be legalised by early 2003 to reduce the cost of long distance calls, he said.

More competition

Last week, the World Bank approved almost $200m (131m) of grants and loans for renewable energy projects in Bangladesh, many of which are designed to power internet equipment.

Mr Morshed took office as the country's first head of the telecom regulatory body early this year.

Bangladesh's 130 million citizens have access to only 700,000 fixed-line phones from the state phone company and 828,000 mobiles supplied by four private operators.

Mr Morshed said that the liberalisation would introduce competition in the telecoms sector.

"As the regulator, BTRC will ensure an equal level playing field for telecom operators," Morshed said.

Demand for satellite

The commission said it would call for bids for a fixed-line licence by June 2003, which would end the state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) monopoly.

Mr Morshed said at least four foreign satellite phone firms had expressed an interest in satellite phone licences and the commission was examining ways of allowing them to begin operations by December.

Bangladeshis already make limited but illegal use of satellite phones and growing demand has pushed the government to lift its ban.

"We feel there is a small market for satellite phones, especially in the off-shore oil drilling industry, and they need these phones to communicate and it would also serve as an effective means of communication for remote areas," he said.

Mr Morshed said legalising internet telephony, which is widely used to make international calls, would significantly reduce the costs of long distance phone calls.

"Proliferation of Voice over Internet Protocol has become a reality and this is the high time to legitimise this technology in Bangladesh," said Mr Morshed.

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Syed Marghub Morshed, chairman , BTRC
"We wish to encourage to encourage pluralistic tendencies in a sector that was controlled by government monopolies."
See also:

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