Activities of value added services of Grameenphone limited
Grameenphone, the leading telecommunications operator of Bangladesh, is part of Telenor Group which has presence in 13 markets across Europe and Asia. Before Grameenphone’s inception, the phone was for a selected urbanized few. The cell phone was a luxury: a flouting accessory for the select elite. The mass could not contemplate mobile telephony as being part of their lives.
Grameenphone started its journey with the Village Phone program: a pioneering initiative to empower rural women of Bangladesh. The name Grameenphone translates to “Rural phone”. Starting its operations on March 26, 1997, the Independence Day of Bangladesh, Grameenphone was the first operator to introduce GSM Technology in this country. Grameenphone pioneered the then breakthrough initiative of mobile to mobile telephony and became the first operator to cover 99% of the country’s people with network
Since its inception Grameenphone has built the largest cellular network in the country with over 13000 base stations. Presently, nearly 99 percent of the country’s population is within the coverage area of the Grameenphone network. Grameenphone has always been a pioneer in introducing new products and services in the local telecom market. Grameenphone was the first company to introduce GSM technology in Bangladesh when it launched its services in March 1997.
Grameenphone was also the first telecommunication operator in Bangladesh to introduce the prepaid service in September 1999. It established the first 24-hour Call Center, introduced valueadded 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. In October 2013 the company launched 3G services commercially. The entire Grameenphone network is 3G/EDGE/GPRS enabled, allowing access to high-speed Internet and data services from anywhere within the coverage area. There are currently over 7 million 3G/EDGE/GPRS users in the Grameenphone network.
Today, Grameenphone is the leading and largest telecommunications service provider in Bangladesh with more than 48.68 million subscribers as of March 2014.
- Grameenphone has so far invested more than BDT 24,600 crore to build the network infrastructure
- Grameenphone is one of the largest taxpayers in the country, having contributed more than BDT 36,500 crore in direct and indirect taxes to the Government Exchequer over the years
- There are now more than 1600 GP Service Desks across the country covering nearly all upazilas of all districts and 94 Grameenphone Centers in all the divisional cities
- Grameenphone has about 4400 full and temporary employees
- 500,000 people are directly dependent on Grameenphone for their livelihood, working for the Grameenphone dealers, retailers, scratch card outlets, suppliers, vendors, contractors and others.
History of Grameenphone Ltd
Grameenphone was the first company to introduce GSM technology in Bangladesh when it launched its services in March 1997. With a nationwide network that covers almost 100 percent of the population, Grameenphone’s entire network is EDGE/GPRS/3G enabled and so all our subscribers have access to the internet and approximately 7.2 million people are using our internet services. Grameenphone is a joint venture between Telenor (56%) of Norway and Grameen Telecom (34%) of Bangladesh. Grameenphone is a public limited company listed with the Dhaka Stock Exchange Limited and Chittagong Stock Exchange Limited.
Contribution to Government Exchequer
The Company has so far invested more than BDT 24,300 crore to build the network and infrastructure since its inception, as well as the largest tax payer in recent years with the cumulative contribution to the National Exchequer standing at over BDT 35,500 crore, as of 4th quarter of 2013. Grameenphone has over 8,700 base stations across the country. These base stations are in itself a huge investment into the business and the country. Thanks to this reinvestment,
Grameenphone can provide the best, widest and clearest network in Bangladesh.
Management of Grameenphone Ltd
The top management of Grameenphone Ltd carried out their management roles comprehensively over the years. There has been replacement or changes in the positions but all have worked together to increase the overall performance of the organization. Management Team of Grameenphone comprises of the Managing Director, the Deputy Managing Director and the Divisional Heads of the company.
The people of Bangladesh are now dreaming of a digital Bangladesh. Faster development of telecommunications network coupled with improved quality of service in line with the national development is a must for the fulfillment of the vision and aspiration of digital Bangladesh and also to take her to a position of honor in the community of nations in the 21st century. Mobile phone operators have been playing an important role in this regard (Rahman, 2010). The last decade has brought the first wave of the truly mobile generation which is built around mobile phones, short messaging service (SMS), and portable electronic assistants. But now there is strong evidence to suggest that there is an even bigger wave to come driven by the increasing worldwide technological trend towards mobility and technology integration. This is evident through the plans and strategic directions of many of the major players in this field (Mahmud and Chowdhury, 2010).
The telecommunication services in Bangladesh were provided until 1989 by the state-owned monopoly provider Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB), telecommunications services. In 1989, the Government of Bangladesh opened the telecom sector by awarding licenses to two operators; one to operate fixed telephones in rural areas (Bangladesh Rural Telecom Authority); and the other to operate cellular mobile phone and pager (Bangladesh Telecom Ltd- BTL) services. In 1992, Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited (PBTL) bought the mobile part of the BTL (Khan 2003). The telecommunications market in Bangladesh, particularly the mobile phone sector consists of six mobile phone operators. These are Grameenphone Limited (GP), Orascom Telecom Bangladesh Limited (Banglalink), Robi Axiata Limited, Airtel Bangladesh Limited, Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited (Citycell), and Teletalk Bangladesh Limited Since its inception Grameenphone has built the largest cellular network in the country with over 13,000 base stations in more than 7000 locations. Presently, nearly 98 percent of the country’s population is within the coverage area of the Grameenphone network. Grameenphone has always been a pioneer in introducing new products and services in the local market. GP was the first company to introduce GSM technology in Bangladesh when it launched its services in March 1997. Grameenphone was also 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 pushpull services, EDGE, personal ring back tone and many other products and services. The entire Grameenphone network is also EDGE/GPRS enabled, allowing access to high-speed Internet and data services from anywhere within the coverage area. There are currently nearly 2.6 million EDGE/GPRS users in the Grameenphone network. Today, Grameenphone is the leading telecommunications service provider in Bangladesh with more than 33 million subscribers.
The shareholding structure comprises of mainly two sponsor Shareholders namely Telenor Mobile Communications AS (55.80%) and Grameen Telecom (34.20%). The rest 10.00% shareholding includes General Public & other Institutions.
Telenor Mobile Communications
TMC, a company established under the laws of the Kingdom of Norway, seeks to develop and invest in Telecommunication solutions through direct and indirect ownership of companies and to enter into national and international alliances relating to telecommunications, it is a subsidiary of Telenor Mobile Holdings AS and an affiliate of Telenor. Telenor ASA is the leading Telecommunications Company of Norway listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. TMC owns 55.80% shares of Grameenphone Ltd.
Telenor’s strong international expansion in recent years has been based on leading-edge expertise, acquired in the Norwegian and Nordic markets, which are among the most highly developed technology markets in the world. It has substantial International operations in mobile telephony, satellite operations and pay Television services. In addition to Norway and Bangladesh, Telenor owns mobile telephony companies in Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, India and Myanmar. Telenor has 166 million consolidated mobile subscriptions worldwide as of December 31, 2013.
Telenor uses the expertise it has gained at its home and international markets for the development of emerging markets like Bangladesh.
As part of the conversion of Grameenphone from a private limited to a public limited company, Telenor Mobile Communications AS transferred ten (10) shares each on May 31, 2007 to its three (3) affiliate organizations namely Nye Telenor Mobile Communications II AS, Norway; Telenor Asia Pte. Ltd., Singapore; and Nye Telenor Mobile Communications III AS, Norway.
Grameen Telecom, which owns 34.20% of the shares of Grameenphone, is a not-for-profit company in Bangladesh established by Professor Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2006.
GTC’s mandate is to provide easy access to GSM cellular services in rural Bangladesh and create new opportunities for income generation through self-employment by providing villagers, mostly the poor rural women, with access to modern information and communication-based technologies.
Grameen Telecom, with its field network, administers the Village Phone Program, through which Grameenphone provides its services to the fast growing rural customers. Grameen Telecom trains the operators and handles all service-related issues.
GTC has been acclaimed for the innovative Village Phone Program. GTC & its Chairman Nobel Peace prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus have received several awards which include; First ITU World information Society Award in 2005; Petersburg Prize for Use of the IT to improve Poor People’s Lives” in 2004; GSM Association Award for “GSM in Community Service” in 2000.
As part of the conversion of Grameenphone from a private limited to a public limited company, Grameen Telecom transferred one share each on May 31, 2007 to Grameen Kalyan and Grameen Shakti.
Grameen Phone Product Commercial (GPPC):
Grameenphone Product Commercial (GPPC) is a department under Commercial Division. This is one of the vital departments under Commercial Division. It has approximately 80 employees. The main job of this department is to focus on product. They deal with all necessary tasks related with product. It has several teams under this department to handle different sections. The teams are following:
- Pricing and portfolio Management
- VAS & Digital Services
- Business Solutions
- SIM and Device Management
- Roaming and Interconnect
- Wireless and Broadband
The team that I worked in is VAS and Digital Services. It has 11 employees. This team works for Value Added Services and digital contents.
VAS and Digital Services:
The main job of this team is to deal with Value Added Services (VAS). VAS can be in any of the following mentioned forms:
- MO-MT / Push-Pull
- Apps (Downloadable)
Now very distinct and short definition is given below to clarify the above mentioned terms, which are very much technical.
MO-MT / Push-Pull: MO stands for “Mobile originated” message whereas, MT means “Mobile Terminated” message. In majority of cases, these terms describe messaging between individual cell phone users and a platform (For example: GP) from the platform’s perspective. MO denotes any message sent from a mobile phone and MT denotes any message sent from a platform to a mobile phone.
IVR: Short form of interactive voice response, a telephony technology in which someone uses a touch-tone telephone to interact with a database to acquire information from or enter data into the database.
USSD: USSD is a protocol used by GSM cellular telephones to communicate with the service provider’s computers. USSD can be used for WAP browsing, prepaid callback service, mobile-money services, location-based content services, menu-based information services, and as part of configuring the phone on the network.
Apps: Applications (Apps) can be in different forms like games, ringtones etc which are downloadable.
WAP: WAP is a technical standard for accessing information over a mobile wireless network.
VAS can be in any format mentioned above. Grameenphone (GP) offers a wide range of VAS for its customers. Currently GP offers more than 40 types of VAS. VAS can be either “GP Branded” or “Non-Branded”.
- GP-Branded services are fully owned by GP.
- Non-Branded services are owned by third parties (Content Provider).
The entire VAS of GP can be described in some major categories, they are following:
- Lifestyle Content
Grameenphone currently offers approximately 40 VAS. These are:
Call Block, Mobile twitting, Icche Tune, Friends & Family, Quick search, Music Radio, Missed call alert, GP App, Music news, MMS, Quick Search, News Service, Voice mail service, GP App, Sports, Pay for me, Buddy tracker, Job news, Balance transfer, Mobi Cash, Islamic Service, Vehicle tracking, Bill Pay, Directory Service, Voice SMS, International Roaming (TravelSure), Health Line, International SMS, Infotainment, Study Line, International MMS, Fun Store!!, Agri Info Service, Ebill, Entertainment Box, Games, Facebook SMS, Welcome tune, Ringtones, Facebook USSD.
Activity Details of VAS:
VAS and Digital Services team continuously put their effort to make the Value Added Services better. Frequently, new services are being added day by day. VAS is a tool to boost up the revenue. VAS provides various facilities to the customer. Grameenphone’s one of the core value is “Make it easy”. Here they are determined to make customers’ life easier by providing smart and useful VAS. It helps a customer to find more useful things to find other than voice calling.
Subscribers can get news services, sports, update, helpline, emergency services, entertainment services, lifestyle contents via VAS.
It makes their mobile phone experience more thoughtful. At first VAS team conducts a meeting with the content provider. After discussion, an agreement is signed between two parties. Every detail about the service is explained in the agreement paper.
Major duties of this team are:
- Market Research (Customer survey)
- Making portfolio for VAS
- Communicating with CP (Content Provider/Vendor)
- Agreement with CP
- Promotional activities and media placement
- Maintaining Vendor’s information
- Arranging promotional events
- VAS Management
- Monitoring and regulating VAS
- Performing “User Acceptance Test” (UAT)
- Setting criteria for VAS
- Modification in VAS
- Providing information to the CPs
- Working strategically with the CPs to achieve target
- Supporting Marketing Department
- Receiving complains/complements and taking necessary actions for improvement
- Supporting Finance Department by providing necessary documents and support
- Collaboration with IT personnel to conduct UAT
While carrying out the responsibilities and duties the following challenges I have faced.
- The first and most important constraint I have experienced during my internship period is to face new challenges everyday because I was completely new in the corporate environment.
- During performing the UAT, sometimes I had to do the same UAT three or more times for system problem which was too much irritating.
- During performing the UAT, sometimes I found that the message is not fine. Means that I sent any message to activate any service, its reply message that has come was not same as it should. On the other hand, Sometimes the same thing happened with the charging. Means balance that should cut to activate any services. But sometimes, more charge was cut down from the balance amount. So, I had to do the UAT until the result was successful.
- It is too difficult to handle a large numbers of CPs (content Provider) with a smiling face continuously because sometimes I had to make them understand a very simple thing by three or more times. Otherwise they made mistakes and then the pressure was on me. Because then I had to do the photocopies and arranged all the papers properly otherwise OTC does not accept their bills. As because we have to keep a long term relationship with them I have bear that pain for the organization’s business purpose.
- Capacity of the IT is not always well. Sometimes for this system related problem, I cannot submit my task in time which was assigned me by my superior.
- To know about current offer and updates we need to check out internal Email and site continuously. It really difficult to us to updates ourselves and serves the clients at a time.
- I had to work with different tools of VAS at a time. If any of this tool was not updated then we need to wait until it solved by CS system. Till then we need to manage the situation which is really difficult.
- GP has lots of packages, offers within this VAS services. As a human being it’s difficult to us to memorize all the information. All the information was given in their internal website called INFOCUBE. But the information was not systematically organized. So we need to find out from that website and that consumed more time.
- All the PCs are not technologically updated. So it does perform slowly most of the time.
- Sometimes, I become confused to follow the diversified direction from different persons in my working hours, because I have to work within a team and the team consists of many people though I have a particular supervisor but I have to serve the entire team member which is quite tough but I was bound to follow all the senior employee’s direction as a intern. That’s why sometimes I feel boring to follow all the instruction from different bosses continuously.
- There was access limitation for intern for their sensitive issue. Information which I can get very easily for the access limitation I can collect them after a great hassle which is very much time consuming and painful.
- Sometimes I had to work out of my team which gave me extra stress because that was not my responsibility.All the team members have to sit and work side by side desk. Everybody needs to talk continuously over the phone with their CP but problem is that all are not same in terms their behavior, attitude and smooth voice. If my colleague talk loudly all the time then it’s very difficult to concentrate on my own work.
- Whatever I wanted to do in the office like (booking a room for meeting or something else) I had to raise a ticket (mail) at least 2-3 days earlier. Otherwise I cannot do this or get this. If I forget then I had to postpone my program because I had to wait for the room. So, I think the toughest thing in GP is to get a meeting room if you did not book it a few days before.
The things that I handled were typically business related. So, as a student of BBA I found this helpful to my studies. The major concentration was on communication. I got a great experience on communication related tasks. I can match it with my academic knowledge. I implemented my knowledge on marketing in diversified way. I implemented marketing research knowledge very well. I was given several researches to be accomplished. I did it successfully using my academic knowledge. Some basic definitions were very necessary to understand in order to have conversations and meetings with the employees. I implemented project management knowledge also.
The one and only dissimilarity was Technical Knowledge. In order to conduct UAT (User Acceptance Test), some technical knowledge was required. I had to learn those in order to perform my duties accordingly. As it is a telecom business, every business people must know some technical issues. To me it was bit challenging to learn those things. Technical issues include Microsoft Outlook skill which was missing in me. But gradually I started handling everything smoothly.
Efficiency in MS Office and MS Outlook is mandatory. Usually we do not put emphasis on it. But it plays an important role. These should be learned from the university. Actually, everyone knows these stuffs, but here the matter is efficiency. We need to do everything faster and easier way. Accuracy is also an important factor here. So business students must learn these things from the student life so that it can benefit him/her in professional life. What I personally faced was, I could solve a simple spreadsheet problem in 5 minutes but my supervisor did it in just 30 seconds because, he is an efficient worker. So these things are really important for professional life.
Students should be trained for stress management and they need to learn how to handle stress at work. I personally was stressed at work. I had to face challenges. But usually students are not aware of that. It might impact negatively in their career. So from university they need to be taught about stress management so that they can face upcoming challenges in their career life.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
Having an experience of a reputed organization has one huge advantage, it makes you more professional and professionalism is the key to success. Working with GrameenPhone added a great value to my skill, knowledge and abilities and hence gave me a chance to relate my studies in the practical working environments, my communication skills improved and I feel more confident that I was and this experience helped me to broad my vision and to be more practical.
Working in an organization does not limit your experience to just one department that you are assigned with but actually the organization is running with a systematic collaboration of the departments and hence requires communications and interaction. That is the point which we should not ignore, and always keep in our mind and heart open for the experience.
There are some important issues that I have learned during my internship period. I have got an overview about how a company’s marketing department performs. I have gained some skills and directions for my future career. Some skills are given below-
- Gaining knowledge regarding GP products: As I was in the VAS TEAM of GP so in order to understand my tasks better, I had to understand all the offerings of different products of GP. This in return enriched my knowledge regarding the products. As an outsider before joining GP, I only knew the offerings of Xplore and smile products but I did not have any idea about business solution products and so other one. So I learned a lot about it which would have been impossible without this internship experience.
- Experience of one-to-one session: One to one session is a session in which a supervisor evaluates employees under him/her on a weekly basis. In this 12 week of internship I had 9 one to one sessions with my supervisor. Each session was of half an hour. In those sessions he used to evaluate my week’s work. In few sessions he corrected my mistakes and also appreciated some of my work of a given week.
- Learned to take decisions: While working, I had to take lot of decisions sometimes our CP called me for billing purpose but my supervisor not available all the time because he was in meeting sometime. So, I have to give decision in some cases, which was completely new to me and was very good experience.
- Maintain the office time: I have to attend the office according to my shift time. There are very strict rules to follow the office time. Since I have done my internship during World Cup & Ramadan period so as a telecommunication operator they was ready to grab the season to maximize their profit margin. So, there was a huge pressure of work that is why there was no option to be late in the office. If I become late to attend the office for personal reason, then I have to give proper reason for this late to my supervisor. So these strict rules had made me punctual to follow the office time and attend the office on time which will be helpful for me in the upcoming corporate life of mine.
- File sharing on computers: In our office, we need to share all the offer, updates and necessary work document through a network from one computer to another. So I have to learn how to share the documents from one computer to another. The reason is that we are working as a group. So to give the desired service properly we have to share files, mails and other updates by using network place.
- Learn corporate attitude: After joining GrameenPhone I have to learn about corporate behavior and attitude, because corporate people are more intelligent and complex minded. They always think of profit. So when we want to convince them we have to talk about their profit for participating at this fair or event. I have to talk with my supervisor or other colleague through a formal discussion and use the formal word. I cannot talk with them about irrelevant topic. So after joining here I have acquired corporate attitude and mentality.
Learned how to behave with boss and subordinates:
We all know that behavior can create solution if it is perfect to the situation, again it sometimes causes major problem. I learned something about how to behave with the boss as well as with the subordinates.
Building good relationship with CP:
I had to deal with the CP through mail or over the phone most of the time. As they are our respective partner who provide all the services on behave of GP, so we have to keep a very good relationship with them. For this, I got an opportunity to build up a good network with them.
Learned good command in ms-excel:
So many of tasks I had to do by using ms-excel, especially for showing the result of UAT and collecting CP’s information . There was not any option without ms-excel, that’s why I learned some work of ms-excel.
RECOMMENDATION FOR STRATEGIC ACTIONS (FOR UNIVERSITY):
- University should educate interns by providing seminars and workshops.
- Internship period can be extended so that interns can gather more knowledge.
- Internship should be always mandatory for upcoming graduates.
- University should arrange career counseling and guidelines for interns.
- Proper guidelines about corporate culture and manners should be provided from the university.
RECOMMENDATION FOR THE PROBLEM IDENTIFIED:
Following actions can be taken for the improvement of above constraints-
- Motivate the intern by different motivational factors otherwise it becomes a monotonous job.
- Since, a huge number of employees are using the system at a time so, IT’s capacity should be improved. Otherwise employees cannot perform their task efficiently.
- Use the easiest communication technology to reach all level of subscribers as well as for their internal communication.
- As an intern I am not that much efficient as like a permanent employee. So, they should give a minimum time to complete a task otherwise there is a big possibility to make mistake.
- The system should more convenient so that UAT can do easily and efficiently. Because this is one of the most vital task before launching any services.
- Should increase the number of meeting roam, because they use to do a lot of meeting every day. Otherwise work may delay for a while or may not be that much fruitful because to do a meeting with other team mate on any particular problem is very necessary.
- My suggestion or proposed course of action towards the organization would be to hire interns at a specific time and as a group or batch. Because then the interns can feel safe and not deserted. They will know we have many interns and we entered together, so no one is superior. We started together so we have the same amount of knowledge and skills.
- Supervisor In the organization along with other employees should help the interns in every matter if there’s any confusion. Not totally depend on the interns’ own decision making.
- Corporate terms should be described by the org supervisor to the interns gradually.
SUMMARY OF THE ENTIRE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM:
The entire internship program can be considered with an ocean of knowledge. I have learned so many things regarding real life business and corporate life. It is not the end rather it is the starting point. It is progressive. Internship is usually 16 weeks period of time, but a great source to learn so many things. Corporate affairs were observed directly, which enhanced my knowledge. I previously had no idea how things are handled in real life business world. But now my perception is very clear than before. I faced many things that were new to me. I did not know how to handle those. But, gradually I became accustomed with those. It was a true corporate orientation for me. I learned to act in a corporate environment. My communication skill expanded. I learned to work in an efficient way. I was with all the corporate people so it made me to behave like them. They were inspirational to me. They directly taught me and helped me to learn how to do those activities practically. Although, I faced many challenges; but the entire internship program was beneficial to me. From challenges and constraints I learned to handle those. It will help me to accomplish those tasks flawlessly in future.
From my personal experience, I can tell that it was mandatory for me in order to learn many things. As a student of business it was beneficial for me. Corporate experience was even greater for me as Grameenphone is a renowned multi-national company. I am accustomed in this environment. I am confident enough that in near future if I enter in another organization I will be easy with that. As I am accustomed in such a big context I will be easily able to follow corporate cultures in any other organization.