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Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Phone competition for Bangladesh
A market in Dhaka
Bangladesh has only 700,000 fixed-line telephones
Bangladesh has unveiled plans to open up the country's fixed-line telephone service to competition.

It will end the monopoly enjoyed by the state-owned Bangladesh telegraph and telephone board (BTTB).

And it should increase the reach of telephone services in a nation which has one of the world's lowest ratios of telephones to people.

Bangladesh's telecom regulatory commission is currently framing rules and guidelines for deregulation.

It has announced that the sector will be open for private investment by April next year.

Chairman of the commission Syed Marghub Morshed said the main aim of the deregulation was to make telephone services cheaper and accessible for all.

Cannot meet demand

Critics of the BTTB say it is plagued by trade unionism and corruption.

Hundreds of thousands of people are waiting to be connected to the fixed telephone network and the state-owned company is failing to meet the demand.

It is estimated that demand for fixed line telephones will reach 3.5 million over the next five years and experts think BTTB will be unable to deliver.

Mr Morshed said that as well as deregulating the fixed telephone sector the commission will allow more operators to provide mobile telephone services.

At the moment there are four mobile operators providing services mainly in urban areas.

Bangladesh has 130 million people, 700,000 fixed line telephones and about 900,000 mobile phones.

See also:

03 Jul 02 | Business
01 Jul 02 | Business
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