Grameenphone(GP) is the telecommunications industry leader with investments in the dynamic markets of Bangladesh. Experience has taught them the importance of telecommunications for economic development. Grameenphone is committed to developing the services that best contribute to the growth of local, regional, and national economies. Today, Grameenphone is the largest mobile phone company in Bangladesh and market leader with more than half of the Bangladeshi market share.
Over the years, Grameenphone has always been a pioneer in introducing new products and services in the local market. Grameenphone was the first company to introduce GSM technology in Bangladesh when it launched its services in March 1997. Being one of the pioneers in developing the GSM service in Europe, Telenor has also helped to transfer this knowledge to the local employees over the years. The technological know-how and managerial expertise of Telenor has been instrumental in setting up such an international standard mobile phone operation in Bangladesh.
Grameenphone was the first operator to introduce the pre-paid service in September 1999. It established the first 24-hour Call Center, introduced value-added services such as VMS, SMS, fax and data transmission services, international roaming service, WAP, SMS-based push-pull services, EDGE, personal ring back tone and many other products and services.
On March 26, 1997 Grameenphone launched its service on the Independence Day of Bangladesh. After almost 14 years of operation; Grameenphone is now the leading telecommunications service provider in the country with more than 27 million subscribers as of October 2007. Presently, there are about 60 million telephone users in the country, of which, a little over 2 million are fixed-phone users and the rest mobile phone subscribers. It is a joint venture enterprise between Telenor (55.8%), the largest telecommunications service provider in Norway with mobile phone operations in 12 other countries, and Grameen Telecom Corporation (34.2%), a non-profit sister concern of the internationally acclaimed micro-credit pioneer Grameen Bank. The remaining 10% shares belong to general retail and institutional investors.
The Telenor Group
- More than 200 million mobile subscribers worldwide
- Strong subscription growth, particularly in our Asian operations
- Listed as No.1 on Dow Jones Sustainability Index 2008
- Ranked as the world’s seventh largest mobile operator
- Revenues 2007: NOK 105 billion
- Workforce 2007: 35 800 man-years
- Listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange, with headquarters in Norway
- November, 1996 Grameenphone was offered a cellular License in Bangladesh by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications
- March, 1997 launched services in Dhaka
- September, 1997 Leased Railway Fiber Optic
- June, 1998 Feb, 2000 Launched its services in Chittagong
- March, 1999 Launched International Roaming
- April, 1999 Final interconnection agreement with B.T.T.B.
- September, 1999 Launched Pre-paid service of GP
- October, 1999 50,000 subscribers
- January, 2000 Implemented new credit policy
- February, 2000 Launched its services in Sylhet
- April, 2000 Launched its services in Barisal
- April 2000 coverage of all six divisional cities
- June, 2000 7, 50,000 subscribers.
- December, 2001 Expect to achieve the coverage of the whole country
- December, 2001 11,50,000 subscribers
- December, 2002 Coverage 61 districts
- December, 2004 Projected 21, 00,000 subscribers and 62% market share
- November, 2005 50,00,000 subscribers
- February, 2006 60,00,000 subscribers
- November, 2006 100,00,000 Subscribers. 10 year of Operations and change of logo
- May, 2007 8650 BTS covering whole Bangladesh
- December, 2007 10000 BTS covering whole Bangladesh
- June, 2008 200,00,000 subscribers
- December, 2009 started offloading shares
- August, 2003 Became the first operator in the country to reach the million subscribers
- September, 2007 150,00,000 Subscribers
Grameenphone nearly doubled its subscriber base during the initial years while the growth was much faster during the later years. It ended the inaugural year with 18,000 customers, 30,000 by the end of 1998, 60,000 in 1999, 193,000 in 2000, 471,000 in 2001, 775,000 in 2002, 1.16 million in 2003, 2.4 million in 2004, 5.5 million in 2005, 10 million in 2006, 15 million in 2007, 20 million in 2008 and ended 2010 with 27 million customers.
Grameenphone is one of the largest private sector investors in the country with an accumulated investment of BDT 16,000 crores up to April 2011. Grameenphone is also one of the largest taxpayers in the country, having contributed nearly BDT 19,446 crore in direct and indirect taxes to the Government Exchequer over the years.
Grameenphone’s stated goal is to provide cost-effective and quality cellular services in Bangladesh. The success of the company is dependent on customer satisfaction. Grameenphone puts emphasis on that point and quickly succeeds to achieve huge popularity around the country. From the very beginning, Grameenphone placed importance on providing good after-sales services. In recent years, the focus has been to provide after-sales within a short distance from where the customers live. It has a very good network throughout the country covering nearly all 62 districts.
Grameenphone service desk
There are now more than 800 GP Service Desks across the country covering nearly all upazilas of 62 districts. The Grameenphone Centers in all the divisional cities remain open from 8am-8pm every day including all holidays.
The Village Phone
By bringing electronic connectivity to rural Bangladesh, Grameenphone is delivering the digital revolution to the doorsteps of the poor and unconnected. By being able to connect to urban areas or even to foreign countries, a whole new world of opportunity is opening up for the villagers in Bangladesh. In addition, the Village Phone Program, also started in 1997, provides a good income-earning opportunity to more than 210,000 mostly women Village Phone operators living in rural areas. The Village Phone Program is a unique initiative to provide universal access to telecommunications service in remote, rural areas. Administered by Grameen Telecom Corporation, it enables rural people who normally cannot afford to own a telephone to avail the service while providing the VP operators an opportunity to earn a living. The Village Phone initiative was given the “GSM in the community” award at the global GSM Congress held in Cannes, France in February 2000.
This is why Grameenphone in collaboration with Grameen bank is aiming to place one phone in each village to contribute significantly to the economic uplifts of those villages. Grameen Phone’s basic strategy is coverage of both urban and rural areas. In contrast to the island strategy followed by some companies which involves connecting isolated island of urban coverage through transmission link. Grameen Phone builds continuous coverage cell after cell, while the intensity of coverage may vary from area to area depending on market conditions, the basic strategy of cell to cell coverage is applied through-out Grameenphone network.
Community Information Center (CIC)
The Grameenphone Community Information Center (CIC) is a shared premise where rural people may access a wide-range of state of art services such as internet, voice communications, video conferencing and other information services. The project of establishing CICs started in February 2006 with 16 CICs. Today it has become a massive operation with over 500 operational in nearly 450 Upazillas. Run by local entrepreneurs; the centers are equipped with PCs connected to the Internet via the Grameenphone mobile network using EDGE technology. They provide high speed Internet access and other information-based services in rural areas. The short-term plan of this initiative is to establish at least one CIC in each of the 462 Upazillas. As a result, up to 15 villages containing up to 40,000 people will be within reach of each CIC.
Grameenphone Centers (GPC) serves as a “one stop solution” for customers, with all telecommunications products and services, under a single roof. A Grameenphone Center also sells phones from vendors like Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and benq. EDGE/GPRS modems and accessories such as chargers and headphones are also sold at GPCs. As of late most of the newly opened GPC’s are franchised.
Corporate responsibilities (CR)
Some of the key CR initiatives of Grameenphone are-
- Safe motherhood and infant care project
- Free eye care support
- Awareness building on varied national issues-AIDS, National Immunization Day
- Economic freedom for more than 400,000 Village Phone operators
- More than 500 Community Information Centers- connecting life and learning
- Sponsor of Bangladesh Special Olympics team
- Employment opportunity to acid survivors
- Scholarship for underprivileged meritorious students
- Establishment of Blood Bank at Bogra for underprivileged patients
- Emergency relief effort in natural calamities
Climate Change Program
Grameenphone being a socially responsible company adopted systematic processes to ensure that, wherever possible, it manages and mitigates the probable negative impact of its business activities on the environment. Grameenphone’s Climate Change Program was initiated in early 2008 with a vision for reducing carbon emission, being environment friendly and creating a momentum with the community and the people. The ambition of the program is:
- To become the leading corporate company in climate initiatives in Bangladesh within 2015
- Reduce 15% carbon emission by 2012 and 40% by 2015
- Create momentum with community and people
- Corporate transformation: ‘Green Company’
- Aware-Engage-Advocacy GP employees
Grameenphone engages in sponsorship to deliver its brand promise and to create mutual benefits for its partners. Grameenphone has been relentlessly supporting different organizations through sponsorships to preserve and glorify the national heritage and patronize the potential developing sectors of Bangladesh. Some sponsorship activities are:
- Partner of Bangladesh Cricket Board, the national team
- Cricket academy
- Weight Lifting
- National Art Exhibition
- Zainul-Quamrul International Children’s Painting Competition
- Rabindro Utshob
- National Poet’s Birth Anniversary
- Tree Plantation Movement
- Police week
- Acid survivor’s welfare
- Anti Drug Movement
- Bengali new year
A connection exists between every person regardless of the distance that separates. And each person is designed to seek out those connections, to stay in touch. Grameenphone serves as that correlating string that connects thousands of people across the country, across the world. It makes the daunting physicality of distance and time trivial. And thus it brings people together, holding their dreams and hopes, joys and sorrows, helping them to ‘stay close’ which is the slogan of Grameenphone.
‘This means that we help our customers get the full benefit of communications services in their daily lives by making it easy to buy and use our services, delivering on our promises, being respectful of differences and inspiring people both inside and outside the company to reach higher goals’.
Grameenphone Ltd. aims at providing reliable, widespread, convenient mobile and cost effective telephone services to the people in Bangladesh irrespective of where they live. Such services will also help Bangladesh keep pace with other countries including those in South Africa region and reduce the existing disparity in telecom services between urban and rural areas. Coming to Grameenphone’s mission statement, it is: “To be the leading telecommunication service provider in the country with satisfied customers, shareholders and enthusiastic employees.” If we analyze this mission statement we realize that Grameenphone wants to be the market leader in the mobile telecommunication business of Bangladesh. This implies that they also consider BTCL as their competitor and they want to keep a win-win situation for their customer, shareholders and employees.
Grameenphone Ltd. has a dual purpose to receive an economic return on its investments and to contribute to the economic development of Bangladesh where telecommunications can play a critical role. This is why Grameenphone, in collaboration with Grameen Bank, is aiming to place one phone in each village to contribute significantly to the economic uplift of those villages.
The basic strategy of Grameenphone Ltd. is for the overall coverage of both urban and rural areas. It continues coverage, cell after cell, with an intention to bring the whole country under its network. Though the priority of the intensity of coverage varies from area to area, the basic strategy of cell-to-cell coverage is applied through the whole country. Presently it has network coverage in 62 districts around the country including all six divisional headquarters, with 10,000 base stations in operation.
The young, dedicated and energetic employees have made the enormous growth of Grameenphone possible. All the employees know in their hearts that Grameenphone is more than a phone. This genuine sense of purpose gives them the dedication and the determination of producing the biggest coverage and the highest subscriber base in the country. The talents and the energy of its people are among the keys of both of its core and distinctive competencies. Grameenphone knows it well and treats its employees accordingly.
Any cellular operator has an Operation and Maintenance department which is responsible for making cellular network available for 24 hours. Grameenphone has built the largest cellular network in the country with over 10,000 base stations in more than 5,700 locations. To face the huge competition at telecom industry by rival other 5 mobile operators Grameenphone may have to increase her base stations to comply with consumers needs. To keep the status of the current market leader in future, Grameenphone has to keep her service standard to the customer satisfaction level. To meet that the quality of new on air base station has to be top class.
Grameenphone built a healthy and robust infrastructure in terms of telecommunication network which is expanded at a record pace every year as well. The Radio in terms of coverage and capacity, Transmission and Switching network in terms of number of base station, connecting transmission line, switching system (MSC) and so on.
The switching capacity has been strengthened with 27 Mobile switching centers 42 Base Station Controller and other equipments added to in 08 divisional cities. Grameenphone is also offering a different type of services to the valued subscribers continuously by deploying different service equipment SMSC, VMSC, EDGE and so on.
Bangladesh is located at the Ganges delta basin so the landscape of Bangladesh is dominated by the rivers and channel. Therefore an important part of the infrastructure is based on radio resources (Microwave Links) owned by Grameenphone. Grameenphone built a strong infrastructure by taking lease dark fibers from the Bangladesh Railway around 2000 km. The second tier backbone covers approximate 1200 km of new fiber optic cable was laid apart from leased optical fiber from Bangladesh Railway to enhance the capacity and to ensure higher redundancy in transmission end.
It has built the largest network with the widest coverage. Presently, nearly 100% percent of population has now been brought under the coverage of the GP network, which covers more than 450 Upazilas of 62 districts. Almost 10,000 base stations are operating around the country.
By bringing electronic connectivity to rural Bangladesh, Grameenphone is delivering the digital revolution to the doorsteps of the poor and unconnected. By being able to connect to urban areas or even to foreign countries, a whole new world of opportunity is opening up for the villagers in Bangladesh. Grameen Bank borrowers who provide the services are uplifting their services economically through a new means of income generation while at the same time providing valuable phone services to their fellow villagers. The telephone is a weapon against poverty. The subscriber base of GP continues to grow at a healthy pace.
Awards and recognition:
- “GSM in the community” award by GSMA in 2000
- “Best Joint Venture Enterprise of the Year” award at Bangladesh Business Awards in 2002
- “Commonwealth Innovation Award” in 2003
- “Best use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development” category in 3GSMA Global Mobile Award,2006
- “Best use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development” category in 3GSMA Global Mobile Award,2007
- “Best Brand Award” by Brand Forum in 2007
- First “Telecom Asia Awards” 2008 “Asian Telecom Innovation of the Year ”
- “Best use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development” category in 3GSMA Global Mobile Award,2008
- Grameenphone and Huawei for “ Building a Greener Mobile Network”
- “Best Brand Communication” for 2009
Behind the Success Story
Grameenphone – Largest Network Coverage
Districts 64 out of 64
Indoor and Highway Coverage
Widest Distribution and Reach:
- Grameenphone Centre – 82
- Community Information Center-500
- Network Service- covers almost 100% of the country’s population
- Base Stations-10,000
- Roaming Partners- 118 Countries.
Grameenphone believes in services, a service that leads to good business and good developments. Telephony helps people work together raising their productivity. This gain in productivity is development, which in turn enables them to afford a telephone service; generating a good business thus development and business go together.
grameenphone : at a glance
Headquarters GPHOUSE, Basundhara, Baridhara, Dhaka-1229, Bangladesh.
Key people Tore Johnsen, CEO