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 Monday, May 12, 2008

Bangladesh based Warid Telecom has announced plans to invest around US$250 million over the next twelve months to expand its network coverage. The company, which only launched its service a year ago is already the country's fourth largest operator by subscriber numbers.

"We haven't reached the optimum level in terms of subscriber acquisition," said Warid's CEO, Muneer Farooqui, adding, "Our strategy is to go ahead with best quality network. So, we have no intention to have a huge number of subscribers if we fail to provide them best services only."

Farooqui also called on the government to lower the BDT800 (US$11.80) tax on each SIM card sold - which was only introduced in 2004 - as it was slowing the expansion of mobile services into rural areas. "This tax is tremendously affecting our business," he said.

The operator launched its network with coverage in 28 districts, which has now been expanded to include 61 districts - out of 64 for the country as a whole.

The country already has six operators - and according to figures from the Mobile World, ended last year with just under 34.4 million mobile subscribers - which is still a population penetration level of just 22.6%. Also worth noting is that while the country has six operators, only four of them are of any significant scale, Grameenphone (15m), Banglalink (6m) and Aktel (7m) and finally, Warid Telecom (2.1m). The two remaining long term incumbents, Citycell and Teletalk barely add up to 2 million customers between them.

The country is currently under military controlled emergency law, and it is expected that democratic elections may be held later this year. Brig General (Retd) MA Malek who head the Ministry of Telecommunications is a military appointment.

Vodafone has also been reported to be seeking an investment opportunity in the country - generally thought to be through a buyout of the 30% shareholder in Aktel, textiles group AK Khan for around US$300 million.

Source: Cellular News.