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Grameenphone (Bengali: গ্রামীণফোন) (DSE: GP,[4] CSE: GP[5]), widely abbreviated as GP, is the leading telecommunications service provider in Bangladesh, with more than 74 million subscribers and 46.3% subscriber market share (as of January 2019).[6] It is a joint venture between Telenor and Grameen Telecom Corporation. Telenor, a telecommunication company from Norway, owns a 55.8% share of Grameenphone, Grameen Telecom owns 34.2% and the remaining 10% is publicly held.[2]

Grameenphone Limited
Public
Traded asDSEGP
IndustryMobile telecommunication services
Founded1997 (1997) in Dhaka, Bangladesh
FounderIqbal Quadir
Dr. Muhammad Yunus
HeadquartersGPHOUSE, Bashundhara,
Dhaka
,
Bangladesh
Area served
Bangladesh
Key people
Michael Foley (CEO)[1]
ProductsMobile Telephony, EDGE, GSM, GPRS, UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA, HSPA+, FDD-LTE
BrandsXplore, Smile, djuice, Flexiload, MyGP, Wowbox, Bioscope
ServicesMobile telephony, mobile internet, Digital Services
Revenue
  • Increase ৳ 132.8 billion (2018)
  • ৳ 128.4 billion (2017)
[2]
  • Increase 35.2 billion (US$420 million) (2018)
  • 27.4 billion (US$320 million) (2017)
[2]
Number of employees
2,412[3] (Q4 2018)
ParentTelenor Mobile Communications AS
Websitegrameenphone.com

Grameenphone was the first company to introduce GSM technology in Bangladesh, and built the first cellular network to cover 99% of the country.[7]

HistoryEdit

The idea of providing universal mobile phone access throughout Bangladesh, including its rural areas, motivated Iqbal Quadir to embark on his journey.[8][9] He was inspired by the Grameen Bank micro-credit model and envisioned a social experiment. With investment from New York-based philanthropist Joshua Mailman, Quadir work with Grameen Bank and Norwegian telephone company, Telenor to set up the telecommunications company, Grameenphone.

Grameenphone received a license for cellular phone operation in Bangladesh from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications on 28 November 1996. The company started operations on 26 March 1997, Independence Day in Bangladesh.

Grameenphone pioneered mobile-to-mobile connectivity, in Bangladesh when interconnectivity with state-run terrestrial phone company was exhausted within two years of operations. The move quickly adopted by other operators created a lot of enthusiasm among the users and garnered international interest. Grameenphone became the first operator to reach the million subscriber milestone as well as ten million, and then fifty million subscriber in Bangladesh.

Edit

On 16 November 2006, Grameenphone officially changed its logo to match its parent company Telenor's logo.

Numbering schemeEdit

 
Typical Grameenphone SIM Card

Grameenphone uses the following numbering scheme for its subscribers:

+880 17 XXXXXXXX & +880 13 XXXXXXXX

880 is the ISD code for Bangladesh and is needed only in case of dialing from outside Bangladesh (otherwise, it may be substituted by a 0, making the prefix 017 & 013).

17 & 13 is the prefix for Grameenphone as allocated by the government of Bangladesh. The following eight-digit number XXXXXXXX is the subscriber number.

The 017 series resonates with national pride for most people in the country. After exhausting the 017 series, Grameenphone became the first operator to launch a second series, the 013.

NetworkEdit

According to Grameenphone, it has invested more than BDT 347.4 billion (US$4.12 billion) to build the network infrastructure since 1997. Grameenphone has built the largest cellular network in the country with over 15,900 base stations. At present, over 99 percent of the country's population is within the coverage area of the Grameenphone network.

The entire Grameenphone network is also GPRS/EDGE/3G-enabled, with the 4G footprint growing rapidly, allowing access to dial-up quality speed Internet and data services from anywhere within the coverage area. There are over 74 million customers, with more than 37 million mobile data users on the Grameenphone network. Grameenphone covers 99.5% of the Bangladeshi population, with 95.5% under 3G coverage.

Products offeredEdit

Cellular ConnectionEdit

Grameenphone was the first operator to introduce the pre-paid mobile phone service in Bangladesh in September 1999.

Detailed information about packages provided by Grameenphone can be found by dialing 121 from your Grameenphone number and also from the official Grameenphone android app available for free download on Google Play Store.

Other servicesEdit

  • Internet: Grameenphone provides Internet service in its coverage area. As it has EDGE/GPRS/3G/4G enabled network, any subscriber can access to internet through this network. Grameenphone was the first mobile operator in Bangladesh to offer EDGE and 3G 4G services to its subscribers.[10]
  • GPay, formerly Mobicash, is a service to enable users to pay their utility bills Electricity/Gas through mobile.[11]
  • Ecommerce: Ekhanei.com is a former service (also known as CellBaazar) to enable users sell or buy products through mobile or internet. It was free to use for all Grameenphone customers, but was closed in 2017.[12]
  • Various other services like stock information, Instant Messaging, SMS Based Alerts/Services, Voice-based Services, Downloads, music, Cricket Updates, Web SMS, Mobile Backup etc.
  • Grameenphone is also working with the fledgling innovation eco-system of Bangladesh and is host to the country's first telco driven Startup Accelerator known as GP Accelerator and an Innovation Lab known as White-Board where startups can seek mentorship & advice. The accelerator program has launched its 6th batch of startups for a 4.5-month-long program through a launching event on November 6, 2019, at GP House.[13]
  • Entertainment: Bioscope, an on-demand video streaming service, was launched in 2016 streaming movies, dramas and live TV broadcasting. GP Music, on-demand music streaming service, was launched in 2015.
  • Shoparu: Grameenphone introduced its own ecommerce app Shoparu, connecting millions of its subscribers to the digital marketplace. The service offers door-to-door delivery service to all areas of Bangladesh, including deep rural areas. Feature phone users may visit any one of the host of Grameenphone Express Centers to order their goods online and receive home delivery.
  • MyGP: In 2017, Grameenphone introduced the very first customer care app that allowed subscribers, through an embedded platform titled Flexiload, to design their own packages based on their personal need for voice minutes, data volumes, text messaging. This app also allowed them to avail personalized discounts. The MyGP app opened up greater transparency for customers who could monitor their usage in real time. Since its launch, MyGP has grown to include several other GP apps such as Bioscope and Shoparu, as well as third party ride sharing apps like Uber and Shohoz.

Corporate social responsibilityEdit

Grameenphone has several projects related to social responsibility.[14] These include:

  1. Child Online Safety: This comprehensive program has been created to raise awareness about online safety for children and also sensitize parents, teachers and guardians. Till date, with partners like BRAC and then UNICEF, Grameenphone has reached out to over 4.5 million school children and 1 million parents, teachers and guardians all across Bangladesh. The Child Helpline 1069 was also incorporated into the program, with support from UNICEF, to provide support to child related issues.
  2. Supply Chain Sustainability: Grameenphone is vigilant about ensuring responsible business conduct across its entire supply chain. GP's Supply Conduct Principles (SCP) are based on internationally recognized standards around human rights, health and safety, labour rights, environment and anti-corruption. It is mandatory for all Grameenphone contracting parties to agree to and comply with these principles. Grameenphone conducts annual supply chain capacity building through on-site briefings, awareness sessions, workshops, forums, process support, online portals and resource guides to ensure our suppliers and sub-suppliers follow the same continuous improvement process.
  3. Book Reading Program: Grameenphone is committed to SDG#10 by leveraging its connectivity to reduce inequalities through scalable and sustainable initiatives. "Alor Pathshala" (www.alorpathshala.org) is the first online book reading program launched by Bishwo Shahitto Kendro (BSK) and Grameenphone on 19 March 2014. Grameenphone has been supporting BSK's annual book reading program since 2004.
  4. Support for distressed people: Grameenphone extends support for distressed people as and when required, including the Rana Plaza collapse, Nepal earthquake, victims of cold wave.

Other projects that Grameenphone was previously involved in, include-

  • Online school: There were 10 online schools operating around the country, where children were educated through video conference by the teachers stationed in Dhaka.
  • Safe Motherhood & Infant Care Project: More than 1.7 million free primary healthcare services were provided to underprivileged pregnant mothers and their infants.
  • Free eye care support: Approximately 28,780 people received free eye care support. 3,458 eye sights have been restored so far.
  • Awareness building on various national issues- AIDS, National Immunization Day.
  • Information boats with digitized livelihood content and internal access for remote riverine communities.
  • Economic freedom for more than 400,000 Village Phone operators.
  • More than 500 Community Information Centers - connecting life and learning.
  • Sponsored the Bangladesh Special Olympics team.
  • Sponsored the Bangladesh National Cricket team.
  • Employment opportunity to acid survivors.
  • Scholarship for underprivileged meritorious students.
  • Blood donation camps for underprivileged Thalassaemia patients.
  • Establishment of Blood Bank at Bogra for underprivileged patients.
  • Emergency relief effort in natural calamities.

Other activitiesEdit

Village phoneEdit

With the help of Grameenphone, Grameen Telecom operates the national Village Phone programme, alongside its own parent Grameen Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), acting as the sole provider of telecommunications services to a number of rural areas. Most Village Phone participants are women living in remote areas. Village Phone works as an owner-operated GSM payphone whereby a borrower takes a BDT 12,000 (US$200) loan from Grameen Bank to subscribe to Grameenphone and is then trained on how to operate it and how to charge others to use it at a profit. As of September 2006, there are more than 255,000 Village Phones in operation in 55,000 villages around Bangladesh. This program has been replicated also in some other countries including in Uganda and Rwanda in Africa.[15]

 
A typical Grameenphone tower

Community Information CentersEdit

Community Information Center (CIC) or GPCIC was an initiative aimed at providing internet access and other communications services to rural areas. In February 2006, 26 CICs were established across the country as a pilot project.[16] In this project, Grameenphone provided GSM/EDGE/GPRS infrastructure and technical support and other partners Grameen Telecom Corporation and Society for Economic and Basic Advancement (SEBA), were involved in selecting and training entrepreneurs to run the village centres. These CICs were used for a wide variety of business and personal purposes, from accessing health and agricultural information to using government services to video conferencing with relatives overseas. Grameenphone also trained entrepreneurs so that they could demonstrate to people how to set up an e-mail account and best make use of the Internet. Currently, none of the CICs are being operated by GP.

Grameenphone CentersEdit

 
A GPC at Gulshan, Dhaka
 
A franchised Grameenphone centre at Tejgaon, Dhaka

A Grameenphone center (GPC) serves as a "one stop solution" for customers, with all telecommunications products and services, under a single roof. A Grameenphone centre also sells phones from vendors like Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and more. EDGE/GPRS modems and accessories such chargers and headphones are also sold at GPCs.

As of February 2013, there are 85[17] GPCs and they are strategically located at all major locations of the country is operated by Grameenphone. There are 2 GP Lounges for customer experience of GP Digital Services. There are also 376,285 unique recharge outlets and 6,836 GP Express Stores all across Bangladesh.

AwardsEdit

  1. In 2002, Grameenphone was adjudged the Joint Venture Enterprise of the Year at the Bangladesh Business Awards.[18]
  2. In 2007, Grameenphone was again presented with the same award for its 'HealthLine Service' at the 3GSM World Congress held in Barcelona, Spain, in February.[19]
  3. In 2007, and consecutively in 2015 and 2016, Grameenphone received the "Best Brand Award" by the Brand Forum.
  4. In 2010, 2011 and 2013, Grameenphone received the "Best Employer" award by BDJOBs.
  5. Grameenphone received "Green Mobile Award" by GSMA for extensive Climate Change Program at Mobile World Congress 2014.
  6. Grameenphone received the "Innovation in Corporate Social Responsibility Practices" award at the Bangladesh CSR Leadership Award 2018.

CriticismEdit

Current issues and ChallengesEdit

Significant Market Player: In November 2018 the regulator identified SMP as institutions with at least the following a) more than 40% market revenue share, b) more than 40% of market share, or c) holding more than 40% of spectrum. Grameenphone was declared a Significant Market Player by BTRC as having over 40% market and revenue share. Disagreements between the operator and the regulator have since ensued regarding the penalties for being a SMP. Grameenphone has maintained that it supports a competition framework consistent with the applicable laws and international best practices; and that directives should not restrict an entities' ability to grow, innovate or invest. The company has earned market share through fair practices and within the stipulated market regulation overseeing the industry. BTRC on the other hand has been trying to impose various rules on the operator in order to restrict the operator's growth and maintain healthy competition in the market. Despite various regulatory issues, Grameenphone continues to maintain a healthy growth in the market.

BTRC Audit claims: In April 2019, BTRC issued a letter to Grameenphone claiming almost BDT 12,600 cr (US$1.5 billion) in dues. GP was issued a demand letter and given two weeks to pay the dues, according to BTRC Chairman. In response to the move by the government authorities, Grameenphone stated, "Throughout the entire process we have pointed out errors in the methodologies, procedure and substance of this audit exercise; however, our observations have gone unheeded. Grameenphone is a transparent company and adheres to the applicable laws of the land".

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "MICHAEL FOLEY APPOINTED CEO OF GRAMEENPHONE". 8 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Annual Report 2017" (PDF). Grameenphone. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Telenor Group – Grameenphone, Bangladesh". Telenor Group.
  4. ^ "Display Company Information: GP". Dhaka Stock Exchange.
  5. ^ "Company Information – GP". Chittagong Stock Exchange.
  6. ^ "CMD2017: Grameenphone Ltd" (PDF). Telenor.
  7. ^ "Our Story". Grameenphone. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  8. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]
  9. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]
  10. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]
  11. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]
  12. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]
  13. ^ "GP Accelerator Launches 6th Batch of Startups And The Complete List Of Startups In The Batch". Future Startup. 6 November 2019. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  14. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]
  15. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]
  16. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]
  17. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]
  18. ^ "Local News on Bangladesh". Sustainable Development Networking Programme. 16 March 2003.
  19. ^ "GSM Association Announces 2007 Global Mobile Awards Winners". GSM Association (Press release). 13 February 2007. Archived from the original on 31 December 2009.

External linksEdit