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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Bangladesh mobile costs 'to fall'
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Private mobile operators to face competition from state-run service
Bangladeshi mobile phone users will see lower bills if they join a new state-run service, the government says.

The service - which costs $76m (50.7m) - aims to attract a million users, Telecommunications Minister Aminul Haque told the New Age newspaper.

The plans for a state competitor to the four existing private mobile operators were delayed for years by squabbling over bidding procedures.

It will now start operations in December, Mr Haque announced.

The Bangladesh Telephone and Telegraph Board, the state telecoms operator, will run the new service, with Germany's Siemens and China's Huawei Technologies as technology partners.

Communications revolution

The four existing private firms, have more than 2 million subscribers- well ahead of the country's fixed line base.

But in a country of 130 million people, even the mobile penetration amounts to well short of two people in every 100 - short of the levels in South Asian neighbours such as India and Pakistan.

Still, the rise of mobile phone use has undercut the BTTB's revenues.

The new state-run mobile service is being launched against a background of rapid change in the telecoms market in Bangladesh.

Further privatisation of its telecoms sector is on the cards, in the mobile, satellite and fixed-line businesses.

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