Only 36.49 per cent mobile subscribers use third generation mobile phone service (3G), more than four-and-a-half years after the service was launched.
According to the annual report of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission for the year ended on June 30, 2017, around 4.96 crore mobile phone subscribers opted for 3G services till end of June, 2017.
The BTRC annual report released last week also mentioned that the country’s total mobile phone subscribers was 2.91 crore at the end of June, 2016.
Total active mobile phone subscribers was 13.59 crore at the end of June last year that has already reached 14.51 crore around the end of December, 2017.
Although the number of 3G subscribers rose by 69.75 per cent during the fiscal year 2016-17, the number of 3G subscribers could not be termed ‘satisfactory’ prior to the launch of fourth generation mobile phone service in the country by March, 2018, said BTRC officials.
The figure also reflected that majority of the country’s mobile phone users, considering the active number of mobile phone subscribers, were yet to subscribe to the service, they said.
On the other hand, an active SIM card or a 3G-enabled SIM card did not represent a person as there were provision in the telecom rules that allowed an individual to hold up to 15 SIM cards against his or her national identity card, the official said.
On the other hand, total 3G mobile phone subscribers reflects 72 per cent of the country’s internet users as the number was 6.86 crore at the end of FY17.
The third generation mobile phone service was first launched by the state-owned operator Teletalk in October, 2012 and the service was launched by three other operators— Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink— in September, 2013.
However, the mobile phone operators have complied with the 3G guidelines in terms of rolling out service in all the district headquarters as well as in most upazilas across the country, the progress, in terms of attaining 3G service subscribers in rural areas could also not be termed as ‘satisfactory’ before the launch of 4G service within a couple of months.
BTRC has already invited tender from the competent mobile phone operators to get 4G licences followed by spectrum auction on February 13 with a view to launch the service soon.
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