Banglalink strives to be a digital operator

Banglalink will make significant investments to transition from a traditional telecom operator to a digital operator as part of its efforts to adapt to the changing nature of the industry.

“There is a transition in the industry and the traditional telecom company cannot live long,” said Kaan Terzioğlu, CEO of Veon Group, the parent company of Banglalink, recently.

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“…and that’s why our strategy is — how do we become a digital operator, not a telecom operator,” he said.

According to him, a traditional operator sells a certain number of minutes, data and SMS. On the other hand, the services of the digital operators must support the lifestyle of the customers – television service, music, news, cloud, financing, health care and many others.

“You will see us not focusing on traditional voice and data, we will not sell raw data in the future, you will see us providing a set of digital applications, this is the area of ​​our future investment”, did he declare.

Banglalink has already launched Toffee digital entertainment platform, where customers can watch many TV channels and entertainment content. Available at the end of 2019, the platform already has 8 million customers.

During his recent visit to Bangladesh, Terzioğlu launched Health Hub, the country’s first integrated digital health platform, in partnership with healthcare providers Daktarbhai, DocTime and Pulse as part of the company’s vision to further diversify its operations in the digital space.

He said that once Banglalink completes its investment in 4G, which remains its top priority for now, it will invest in digital services and applications ranging from entertainment to healthcare and education to services. financial.

“Some of them we will do ourselves, some of them we will do in partnership,” he said.

The regulator must understand that traditional telecommunications services will not survive very long and will allow mobile operators to provide services to the customer based on what customers expect and demand, he said.

He said that in many countries mobile operators are leading mobile financial services and something similar could be done in Bangladesh.

This device is the bank, said Terzioğlu taking a mobile phone in hand, adding that it must turn into a significant cost saver.

Asked about the upcoming spectrum auction prioritizing the launch of 5G, he said the upcoming auction was important and he was very happy that Bangladesh is finally making available an abundant amount of spectrum at affordable prices. reasonable.

“We have a strategic plan in terms of deploying our networks and we have a plan on how to deploy the spectrum in this network,” the group’s CEO said.

“We will continue with our strategic plan as we commit to the market. We are also committed to continuing to be the fastest network in the country,” he said.

Asked whether Bangladesh is a friendly country for foreign investment, Terzioğlu said Bangladesh is taking solid steps in the right direction.

“I think we will see more liberalization in the years to come,” he said, adding that the government was considering all options to make the country an attractive option for investors.

On the high taxation in the telecom industry, he said that the tax burden on the telecom industry in Bangladesh is the heaviest in the world.

“If Bangladesh can reduce the tax burden in the industry as it is not yet accessible to everyone, it will help Bangladesh to provide digital services to everyone,” he said.

“This will only be done by lowering indirect taxation,” he said.

Asked about fiber deployment practices in other markets, he said different regulators have different approaches.

“But we want to have more flexibility in fiber deployment and fiber sharing in Bangladesh as an operator. Investment in fiber requires a lot of capital expenditure and the more it is shared between operators, the better it’s for the industry,” he said. .

Asked about customer dissatisfaction with operators’ quality of service, he said network speed and quality would be improved by making more spectrum available for the 4G sharing network among the four existing operators.

Regarding monopoly control in the market, he said that any operator with a market share of more than 40% must be regulated in such a way as to respect fair competition and that the actions of an operator must not be consumer expense.

He said it had been two years since Covid-19 surfaced and Veon had continued to invest in Bangladesh during that time and half of its 37 million customers were now using 4G.

“We have decided to double our investment. We will become a national operator because there are parts of the country where we do not operate due to a lack of infrastructure,” he said.

According to him, Banglalink has started working on rolling out 7,000 network sites.

“You will see that we will increase our network coverage. We will continue to be a high quality 4G service provider covering all geographies in Bangladesh,” he said.

“For us, bringing 4G to all, not 5G to a few, is the number one priority,” he added.

Terzioğlu said he’s not a big fan of 5G vanity.

“That sounds good, but the reality is that less than 50% of people have a smartphone and less than 50% take advantage of 4G. This means that for the next 2-3 years, we must continue our mission to bring 4G to everyone,” he said.

Terzioğlu went on to say that they would invest in 5G when it was only needed for industrial purposes, not for consumers.

On profitability, he said they are a long-term investor and have invested around $4 billion over the past 17 years of operation.

“We will continue to invest every year with around 200-300 million dollars in the next three years. We are patient, we have not yet taken dividends from Bangladesh. I hope we will share our profits with investors local,” he said.

Terzioğlu said that Banglalink aspires to go public in three years.

Mentioning that Banglalink was the best in the rating of an independent agency and the regulator, he said he was very proud of the work of the team that was rolling out the networks and increasing customer satisfaction.

Presenting Bangladesh as a beacon of stability in the region, he said he had visited Bangladesh two years ago, just before the emergence of Covid-19, and the pandemic had not been in able to impede the country’s economic progress.

“The number of retail stores is getting higher and the quality has improved, high-end fashion stores have almost doubled in two years, which was almost a sleeping period for many countries,” said he added.

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