Bangladesh latest nation with at least 100 million active cell phone users – a milestone reached so far by only 20 countries in the world.
Even land lines were difficult to obtain – let alone mobile phones — and were considered a sign of wealth and prestige. Today people from all social strata use cell phones, from street vendors to business executives in luxury cars, and from villagers to urbanites.
The transformation is due in large part to Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, who started his GrameenPhone Sim Company in 1997, For the reach every strata of the society with cell phone service.
“Now, we have more than 100 million active SIM users. This is an historic event,” Sunil Kanti Bose, Director of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), told News Of South Asia.
Bangladesh has now joined South Asian neighbors India (860m) and Pakistan (120m) on the list of countries with 100m or more mobile phone users. The others are China (one billion users), Russia, Brazil, the United States, Indonesia, Japan, Germany, the Philippines and Nigeria.
“Now, a producer in the remotest area can directly contact the sellers without middlemen, Even producers can easily get the market price before they sell and marketing.
Introduction of 3G bandwidth services will further encourage such trends, according to Abu Sayeed Khan, a telecom consultant. He said “Because 3G services are very beneficial for us”.
GrameenPhone, now a subsidiary of Norway’s Telenor, remains the largest provider in Bangladesh, with 40% of users. It competes with Banglalink, a subsidiary of Egypt’s Orasmcom; Malaysia’s Robi; India’s Airtel; state-owned Teletalk; and Citycell.