The country’s mobile subscriber base witnessed a decrease in November last year as top operator Grameenphone lost a big chunk of customers due to a SIM sales ban.
In November, the number of mobile subscribers decreased by 8 lakh from that in October to reach 18.08 crore, according to the latest data of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
Grameenphone alone lost about 11 lakh customers, taking its total to 8.03 crore.
Earlier on June 29, the telecom regulator, on instruction from the posts and telecommunications division the previous day, banned Grameenphone’s SIM sales until it “improves its quality of service including bringing down call drop rate”.
The ban was finally lifted six months later on January 2 this year, with the regulator expressing satisfaction over “improvement of service quality”.
Grameenphone lost about 37 lakh customers in the first five months of the ban.
An official of Grameenphone said it took some steps to improve its service quality, for which its call drop ratio has dropped to 0.3 per cent while the average internet speed all over Bangladesh stands at 11Mbps.
On a year-on-year basis, the operator’s subscriber numbers dropped by 4.40 per cent in November.
Third-place operator Banglalink continued to draw customers, with about 2 lakh joining its network month-on-month to take the total to 3.94 crore in November. The number had gone up by 9 lakh in October.
Th operator said this was backed by its massive network expansion and utilisation of new spectrum from the 2.3 GHz band to ensure faster internet.
The growth momentum in mobile subscriber numbers had been prevailing over the last couple of months, it said.
“This happened due to our consistent efforts on network expansion and also the broadcasting of the Fifa World Cup through the Toffee digital platform,” said Ankit Sureka, head of corporate communications and sustainability.
Last year, the operator installed 4,000 base transceiver stations (BTS), popularly known as mobile towers, taking its total to 14,000.
On a year-on-year basis, its subscriber numbers increased by 6.04 per cent in November.
Robi, the second largest operator, added about 60,000 customers month-on-month in November, taking its total to 5.43 crore.
Market analysis shows that 15 per cent to 20 per cent of subscribers move from one operator to another or come back every month, said Mohammed Shahedul Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer.
“Value-added tax and other taxes have increased for new connection sales in the current financial year. Besides, the minimum recharge amount has increased by Tk 10 to Tk 20 while the number of packages and offers has gone down,” he said.
“So, many customers who kept their second or third connections active with low recharge amounts are either not using them at all or using them as the primary connection,” he said.
“These factors have reduced the fierce competition in the sales of new connections,” said Alam.
On a year-on-year basis, the number of subscribers of Robi increased 1.15 per cent in November last year.
State-owned Teletalk lost about 20,000 customers month-on-month in November.