Telecommunication Industry in Bangladesh: Comparing Grameen Phone and Mobile Operator Aktel

Executive summery | Telecommunication industry is a booming sector in Bangladesh which is leading by Grameen phone and followed by the some mobile operator like Aktel, Banglalink, Warid telecom, City cell, Teletalk. This study is basically on Aktel; rationally we have taken Grameenphone as a benchmark. Aktel is one of the early comers in the mobile sector but its current position is not satisfactory. Their progress is not significant in comparison to Grameen phone and other existing operator.

This study tried to scrutinize the gap between them from the perspective of quality service. We have made this comparison on the basis of some criteria such as customer care center, network capacity, customer satisfaction, corporate social responsibility, internet facility, employee satisfaction, brand image & number of subscriber. This study has found some limitations of Aktel on the basis of above criteria, tried to recommend some suggestion to reduce the gap. |Introduction |

Aktel is the third largest mobile phone company in terms of revenue and subscribers (8. 59 million as of February 2009). In terms of earning profit, Aktel was the second position in 2008 & secured 3rd place in market position. It is the first mobile phone operator in the country to give GPRS service to the subscribers. Aktel launched its operation on the 15th November 1997 in Dhaka and on 26 March 1998 in Chittagong. Aktel started its journey with the earnest efforts of late Mr. Zahir uddin khan. Now Aktel stake is being shared by telecom Malaysia, Axiata, Docomo along with A. K.

Khan. Though Aktel has started its journey since 1997 & it was the 2nd telecommunication company in Bangladesh. But the position the Aktel should be is yet to be achieved. Moreover, some new coming companies are gaining more market share instead of Aktel such as Banglalink, Warid. Though the early comer, Aktel is losing its market position in comparison with other mobile phone operators in Bangladesh. That’s why our survey tried to identify the reasons why Aktel cannot become the market leader. So we have selected a benchmark to make comparison with & logically it is Grameen phone.

Grameen phone, the giant mobile operator with the largest subscriber, operating in Bangladesh since 1997. At present Grameen phone is the only operator achieving profit and leading the market. Our survey tried to find out the gap between Grameen phone & Aktel as well as present some suggestion to overcome the problem. |Objectives & limitation | Objectives ? To identify present conditions of AKTEL in mobile phone service sector To identify the key performance variable with benchmark ? Specify programs and actions to reduce the gap with benchmark ? To evaluate the future potentiality of AKTEL to be the market leader ? To ensure proper guideline for strategic advantages. Limitation ? Sources were not enough. ? Unwilling to provide information due to security. ? There are little information regarding this sector ? Shortage of time. ? Lack of secondary data |Scope of the study | This study has showed the significant difference between the Grameenphone and Aktel in the term of their operation. • This study has attempted to focus on the qualitative difference between the two companies. • The relative parties can find some view about their current position • This study has provided some suggestion to overcome the current problems. |Methodology | Two types of data are generally used to prepare a research paper such as primary data and secondary data.

We have tried our best to collect both data & information and have tried firm intention to emphasis on primary data as it is often up to date and more useful than any public information. We have visited both Aktel and Grameen phone center to collect actual and reliable data as we can make the report fruitful. We have also collected secondary data including internet, magazine, journal, periodical, and other publications. |Background of the study |

Bangladesh, a country with 150 million people, is a potential market for the mobile phone company. To capture this potential market, some renowned and famous telecommunication companies have immerged in the recent years. From the very beginning city cell was the pioneer of the mobile industry, and then successively Grameenphone and Aktel have commenced their operation. In the course of time, Grameenphone has achieved a significant position leaving the other operator behind. Emergence of the two new companies Banglalink and Warid telecom have made this market more competitive than ever before.

At the same time being an earlier mobile operator Aktel position is not expected at all. That why we have chosen Aktel to make the study with. For the logical reasons, Grameenphone is our benchmark. This study tried to find out the significant gap between Grameenphone and Aktel as well as to recommend some suggestions. |1. 1 Aktel in brief | Aktel is a dynamic and leading countrywide GSM communication solutions provider.

It is a joint Venture company between Axiata and NTT Docomo, Japan. Aktel was officially commenced its operations in 1997 among the pioneers GSM mobile telecommunications provider in Bangladesh. Covering all 64 districts of the country, Aktel has become the first mobile operator to connect Tetulia and Teknaf, the northern and southern most points of Bangladesh and the first to provide seamless coverage along the Dhaka-Chittagong highway. Aktel supports 2G voice, CAMEL phase 2 and GPRS/EDGE service with high speed internet connectivity.

It has the widest International Roaming coverage in Bangladesh connecting 440 operators across 203 countries. Aktel’s GSM service is based on a robust network architecture and cutting edge technology such as Intelligent Network (IN), which provides peace-of-mind solutions in terms of voice clarity, extensive nationwide network coverage, and multiple global partners for international roaming. Aktel customer centric solution includes value added services (VAS), quality customer care, easy access call centers, digital network security, and flexible tariff rates.

With its strengths and competencies developed over the years, Aktel aims to provide the best quality service experience in terms of coverage and connectivity to its customers all over Bangladesh. |1. 2 Motto of Aktel | Vision: To be the leader as a Telecommunication Service Provider in Bangladesh. Mission: Aktel aims to achieve its vision through being number ‘one’ not only in terms of market share, but also by being an employer of choice with up-to-date knowledge and products geared to address the ever changing needs.

Theme: Aktel always strives to uphold the dictum ‘Customer First’. Quality Policy: Aktel is committed to achieving leadership in customer satisfaction by continually improving its processes, products and services to ensure they consistently exceed customers’ requirements. We will develop and implement technology and infrastructure that enable us to be clearly ahead in Bangladesh and to enhance the mobility experience of our customers. |1. 3 Services of Aktel | Prepaid (furti): Prepaid Kingdom of Aktel offers all its Prepaid customers: • Single prepaid package with the best rates in the market • Different tariff plans in one package to meet different types of needs • Instant, easy & multiple migration facility from one tariff plan to another  • 5 FnF to any operator mobile with one Aktel partner facility • Full BTCL connectivity with FREE BTCL incoming • Economy ISD (EISD) facility to call 55 countries of the world by dialing 012 • Extended and simplified refill validity for ease and freedom • Nationwide Easy Load facility Nationwide Internet connectivity • All available Value Added Services (e. g. SMS, MMS, GoonGoon, ringtone, wallpaper, games, animation downloads) Prepaid Tariff: |Normal tariff (without VAT) | |Particulars |TK. /min | |Outgoing |12am to 4pm |4pm to 12am | | |To Aktel |0. 8 |1. 48 | | |To other Operator |1. 48 |1. 48 | | |To Aktel FnF |0. 68 |0. 68 | | |To Other mobile operator FnF |0. 68 |0. 68 | | |To Aktel partner |0. 40 |0. 40 | | |To BTCL (Local/NWD) |1. 48 |1. 8 | | |To International (IDD/EIDD)* |Only IDD/E-IDD Charges | |Incoming | |From any number worldwide |Free | |Pulse | |Outgoing |60 sec from 1st minute | | |*For IDD & E-IDD-15 sec pulse |

Get a new connection: • Package price Tk. 98 • Welcome gift of Tk. 25 talk-time upon activation (applicable for any purpose) • 60 days validity on activation • Default tariff plan will be Simple (with migration facility) • Available at Aktel Customer Care, Aktel Care Point & all the mobile outlets nationwide Aktel Postpaid: • Call setup charge applicable for all calls under simple plan. • Line Rent Waived if monthly usage exceeds TK 500 (excluding monthly subscription fee e. g. Goon Goon subscription fee, Aktel PA etc) or if customer subscribes unlimited GPRS . • For IDD and E-IDD-15 sec pulse from 1st Minute. •  Conditions apply. Postpaid tariff:  Out going Voice Calls | Any Operator | BDT 1/min | | | Aktel To BTCL | BDT 1/min | | | Aktel To International (IDD/E-IDD charges) | Only IDD/E-IDD Charges | | | FnF: Any Operator | BDT 0. 68/min | | | FnF: BTCL | BDT 0. 68/min | | | Partner Number | BDT 0. 5/min | | SMS  | Any Operator | BDT 1/SMS | | | International |BDT 2/SMS | | Connection Fee & Others | Connection Price | BDT 499 | | | Credit Limit | BDT 300 | | | Line Rent | BDT 100 | | | Pulse | 30 sec | | | | | |1. 4 Time wise achievement | [pic] 2. 1Grameenphone in Brief [pic] Grameenphone is now the leading telecommunications service provider in the country with more than 20 million subscribers as of June 2008.

Presently, there are about 30 million telephone users in the country, of which, a little over one million are fixed-phone users and the rest mobile phone subscribers. Starting its operations on March 26, 1997, the Independence Day of Bangladesh, Grameenphone has come a long way. It is a joint venture enterprise between Telenor (62%), the largest telecommunications service provider in Norway with mobile phone operations in 12 other countries, and Grameen Telecom Corporation (38%), a non-profit sister concern of the internationally acclaimed micro-credit pioneer Grameen Bank. Over the years, 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.

The technological know-how and managerial expertise of Telenor has been instrumental in setting up such an international standard mobile phone operation in Bangladesh. 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. November 28, 1996 Grameenphone was offered a cellular license in Bangladesh by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. March 26, 1997 Grameenphone launched its service on the Independence Day of Bangladesh. November 5, 2006 After almost 10 years of operation, Grameenphone has over 10 million subscribers. September 20, 2007 Grameenphone announces 15 million subscribers.

The company has so far invested more than BDT 10,700 core (USD 1. 6 billion) to build the network infrastructure since its inception in 1997. It has invested over BDT 3,100 crore (USD 450 million) during the first three quarters of 2007 while BDT 2,100 crore (USD 310 million) was invested in 2006 alone. Grameenphone is also one the largest taxpayers in the country, having contributed nearly BDT 7000 core in direct and indirect taxes to the Government Exchequer over the years. Of this amount, over BDT 2000 core was paid in 2006 alone. Since its inception in March 1997, Grameenphone has built the largest cellular network in the country with over 10,000 base tations in more than 5700 locations. Presently, nearly 98 percent of the country’s population is within the coverage area of the Grameenphone network. 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 push-pull 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 3 million EDGE/GPRS users in the Grameenphone network. 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. 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, 11. 3 million in 2006, and it ended 2007 with 16. 5 million customers. |2. 2 Services of Grameenphone | Prepaid service of Grameenphone (Smile): • SMILE subscribers will enjoy reduced tariff of only Tk 1. 50/min (8am-12pm and 4pm-12am) for all GP to GP calls and Tk 2/min to any other operator (8 am-12 am). A call to a BTCL number will cost Tk. 2. During 12 pm to 4 pm tariff for any GP-GP call is 0. 49/min. • Under a promotional offer smile subscribers now can talk to any GP number only at Tk. 0. 49/min from 12 am to 8 am in the morning. At the same time calls to any other operators will cost Tk. 1. 00/min. • SMS to any GP number and to other local operator’s number is Tk. 1 and international operators are Tk. 2. • 15% VAT will be applicable on all tariffs. Post paid Service (Xplore): Xplore Postpaid has come up with a very attractive and competitive tariff. |GP-GP | Bangladesh has 52. 3 million subscribers in total, (December 2009) |Rank |Operator |Technology |Subscribers |Ownership | | | | |(in millions) | | |1 |GP |GSM, GPRS, EDGE |23. 26 |Telenor (62%) and Grameen Telecom (38%) | |2 |Banglalink |GSM, GPRS, EDGE |13. 87 |Orascom Telecom (100%) | |3 |Aktel |GSM, GPRS, EDGE |9. 29 |Axiata Group Berhad (70%) and NTT DoCoMo(30%) | |4 |Warid |GSM, GPRS, EDGE |2. 9 |Warid Telecom (30%), | | | | | |AIRTEL (70%) | |5 |City cell |CDMA2000 1x, CDMA2000 1xEvDO |1. 95 |Pacific Group, Far East Telecom Limited, SingTel | | | |Rev. A | |(45%) | |6 |Teletalk |GSM, GPRS, EDGE |1. 07 |State-owned | [pic] 3. 1 Comparison between Aktel and Grameen phone profit

Grameenphone: Grameenphone is the leader in the market in achieving profit at a high rate. Grameenphone have secured 1st position in earning profit. Aktel: Aktel is at second position in earning profit as if Aktel is more earlier and experienced company but still it is struggling in mobile industry. Entering the share market Grameenphone: Grameenphone has already entered into share market. So people of our country have got a change to invest on share market that is necessary for our economic growth. Aktel: In this case, Aktel is yet to move for share market. We have come to know that there is a possibility to enter into share market in next year but the initiative should have taken early. Advertisement and promotional activities

Grameenphone: promotional activities of Grameenphone are far reaching. Grameenphone put emphasis largely on promotional activities that have enhanced its popularity among the people irrespective of age, class & personality. Aktel: promotional activities of Aktel are not something special to mention about. Their contribution in this sector is insufficient comparing to other operators. There promotional activities necessaries more attention in this sector to compete in this competitive mobile industry. Network coverage Grameenphone: Grameenphone have strong network coverage that is out of reach than any other operator in Bangladesh. They are covering 98% area of country.

Actually general people chose Grameenphone more because of their strong network coverage. Aktel: Aktel network coverage is not so much weak but still insufficient to challenge Grameenphone in this competitive market. Aktel is just covering 65% area of Bangladesh. [pic] Employee Grameenphone: Grameenphone have significant amount of employees. GP has generated direct and indirect employment for a large number of people over the years. The company presently has more than 5,000 full and temporary employees. Another 100,000 people are directly dependent on Grameenphone for their livelihood, working for the Grameenphone dealers, retailers, scratch card outlets, suppliers, vendors, contractors and others.

Aktel: Aktel has also significant number of employees but not sufficient in comparison with the grameenphone. The company presently has approximately 3500 full and temporary employees. Another 7000 people are directly dependent on Grameenphone for their livelihood, working for the Grameenphone dealers, retailers, scratch card outlets, suppliers, vendors, contractors and others. [pic] corporate social responsibility [pic] Corporate social responsibility, as we see it, is a ‘complementary’ combination of ethical and responsible corporate behavior, as well as a commitment towards generating greater good for the society by addressing the development needs of the country.

Our core strategy in this area is to be Bangladesh’s partner in developing the country, particularly in its promise, as a United Nations Millennium Declaration signatory, to meet the eight targets known as the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. We have consolidated our social investment initiatives in four core areas related to the Millennium Development Goals namely, • Poverty alleviation, • Healthcare, • Empowerment • Education Grameenphone with Bangladesh cricket: Grameenphone is one of the fanatic patronizes of the Bangladesh cricket team. They have extended their helping hand towards they Bangladesh cricket any time when needed. They have sponsored of many cricket series not only in Bangladesh but also in abroad.

As cricket is a popular game in Bangladesh, so Grameenphone is achieving much popularity through sponsoring the cricket team. [pic] Aktel is always committed to the society. In fact, 2005 & 2006 were a year of exploration into Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for Aktel. To actively identify and start establishing Aktel as a concerned entity devoted to the development of many social interests throughout greater Bangladesh based on four core values. These are enlightened through education, Assure better health, Protect environment and Fight with poverty. In recognition of its CSR effort, Aktel is the first among all mobile phone operators to win prestigious “Standard Chartered-Financial Express Corporate Social Responsibility Award-2006”.

Aktel believes education platform remains the main focus to develop a nation. To ensure an early jump into technology and intellectual transfer, Aktel has established a tradition of providing scholarships every year to three promising individuals to complete their higher studies in Multimedia University in Cyberjaya, Malaysia. To provide a world-class teaching and learning resources for Bangladeshi professionals Aktel joined hand with Chittagong Skills Development Centre (CSDC), Underprivileged Children’s Educational Programs (UCEP-Bangladesh), etc. Aktel also aims to identify and supports indeed those in need of basic infrastructure to practice the fundamentals of Islam.

This contribution goes in building orphanages and renovations of mosques all across the Bangladesh. To improve living condition of distressed people; Aktel has always been providing support to them. As a shared concern with the society at large, Aktel also focused towards the roaming street children found throughout Bangladesh. Not only will Aktel continue its thrust towards identifying & involving itself with more avenues for CSR activities, we encourage the fellow enterprise of Bangladesh to participate in such activities on a regular basis. By becoming more aware of living & social community, Aktel can certainly see so many areas to be involved in.

Only through concerted efforts of the private sector, there will be emerged a socially responsible collective consciousness CSR Highlights Aktel –Daily Star EIS (English in School) launched | [pic] | Aktel & The Daily Star have jointly initiated  English in Schools ( EIS), a language learning program  to promote English language learning at secondary schools across the country. Under the three-year programmed, three complimentary copies of The Daily Star will be distributed to around 1,000 schools each in 64 districts five days a week. Every week, there will be a special page containing materials on English language useful for teachers and students in and outside the school.

Aktel stands besides cold affected underprivileged people of the city: Aktel, one of the largest cellular phone operators in Bangladesh has joined hands with Anjuman-Mufidul-Islam, a hundred year’s old civic organization in distributing blankets to the underprivileged people of the city. Aktel joined hands with SEID trust: To rehabilitate children with disabilities especially intellectual and multiple disabilities into mainstream society and to facilitate activities directed towards ensuring the rights of such children, Aktel, country’s largest telecom service provider joined its hands with SEID (Special Education for Intellectually Disabled) Trust, a non- governmental voluntary organization.

Aktel stands besides SOMA: Aktel commenced for SMS campaign in raising funds for the treatment of Ms. Soma Akter (17), who was suffering from terminal illness of thalasimia (blood cancer). [pic] Aktel in Bishwa Estema 2008 Aktel had taken initiative of executing various activities in Bishwa Estema, the 2nd largest Muslim gathering in the world after Holy Hajj in which millions of people came from different parts of the world to participate in this pilgrimage. Among the initiatives, are to provide instant primary aids to the pilgrims through free medical check-up by a team of certified doctors’ at the Aktel voluntary medical service point from morning to night.

Aktel also served free pure drinking water for the pilgrims of Bishwa Estema. [pic] Aktel-Debate Championship ’08: The ‘Aktel Debate Championship ‘08’ was organized by Drishty Chittagong. In the week long program, 7th inter school English debate competition and 1st Inter university English debate competition were held. [pic] Aktel’s contribution for BRAC’s education programme: Aktel, country’s one of the largest cell phone operators assisted in publishing the book titled ‘Nana Desher Nana Manush’ under the nonformal and continuing education program conducted by Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC). The cheque was handed over to The Book Group, the authorized publisher, Mr.

Syed Nazmul Abdal, Executive Director of The Book Group. With this financial aid, about 10000 copies of informative children books will be published for non-formal schools run by BRAC. Employee satisfaction Grameenphone: Grameenphone considers its employees to be one of its most important assets. GP has an extensive employee benefit scheme in place including Gratuity, Provident Fund, Group Insurance, Family Health Insurance, Transportation Facility, Day Care Centre, Children’s Education Support, and Higher Education Support for employees, in-house medical support and other initiatives. Aktel: Aktel has also some employee development plan for its employees.

Aktel has transportation facilities, festival bonus, insurance facilities, and medical facilities for its employees but in some case grameenphone is more ahead than Aktel. So grameenphone is achieving more employee satisfaction as well as quality service. Taking quick and revolutionary decision Grameenphone: Grameenphone phone was the first mobile company operating in our country, that’s why they have to face several challenging decisions which they have overcame very successfully by their innovative and snatch decisions. Grameenphone internet facilities, entering share market, vital role in CSR programe that efficiently performed by the grameenphone than any other existing mobile operator in Bangladesh.

Aktel: Aktel have also introduced some revolationalry and innovative decision in this sector like 10 sec/pulse, e-fill facility, extended validity of balance, balance transfer, 5 FnF offer, and surprising call rate through introducing Aktel joy. Quality customer service Grameenphone: From the very beginning, Grameenphone placed emphasis 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. There are now more than 600 GP Service Desks across the country covering nearly all upazilas of 61 districts. In addition, there are 72 Grameenphone Centers in all the divisional cities and they remain open from 8am-7pm every day including all holidays. Aktel: Customer Care Centers have been established to meet the customer’s needs and demands, under one roof.

Staffed with professionals, these Centers cater to any queries that may have regarding AKTEL and its products / services. Any support regarding AKTEL connection, be it as simple as paying your bills or activating any of AKTEL’s innovative value-added services, is available at these Centers. AKTEL has 19 Customer Care Centers and 200 Customer Service Points in 61 allowable districts all over the country. Aktel has another 670 Aktel Touch Points (ATP) scattered along the most densely populated areas. [pic] Providing internet facility Grameenphone: Grameenphone is one of the mobile phone operators who got the internet facility. Recently the popularity of grameenphone internet is sky reaching.

Grameenphone has introduced special modem facility @ 3200 only for availing their internet facility and that’s why, now a day’s grameenphone becoming an untouchable leader in the mobile industry. [pic] [pic] [pic] Aktel: On the other hand, Aktel is yet to introduce any such facility for their valuable customers that may drive their subscriber to depend on any other operators. So it is urgent need to provide this facility to retain their valued customers. Introducing hand set Grameenphone: Recently grameenphone has introduced a hand set of their own including camera, internet facility, MMS, FM radio facilities with a minimum cost. Through introducing hand set, grameenphone have touched a new milestone in this sector. Aktel:

Aktel have not launched any such mobile phone yet now. They need to give emphasis on this sector to capture new customers. Brand image Grameenphone: Brand image of grameenphone is far better than other mobile phone operator in Bangladesh. So the company is getting more attention by the general people. Aktel: Aktel brand image is also lucrative to the people but in this term grameenphone has achieved more success whereas Aktel clearly lagging behind. |Recommendation | • Network capacity of Aktel should be enhanced to capture more customers. Customer care center facilities should be developed and available to the existing customers. • Advertisement & promotional activities of Aktel should be up to the mark. • Employee satisfaction should be ensured to get quality work. • Corporate social responsibility should be performed more to create a lucrative impression. • Internet facilities should be provided to cope up with this competitive market. • Aktel should take some steps to enter into share market. • Value added services should be increased. • Quality customers’ services must be ensured. |Conclusion |

Mobile phone industry has brought about a silent revolution and a radical change in our standard of living. This sector is very attractive to the companies & eventually, it is being more competitive day by day. So to survive in this competitive market, the company should be more careful about the satisfying customer needs. This study has showed why a company like Aktel is lagging behind then the leader. So there have a little bit concern for the Aktel to improve their service quality as well as their market position. So it is high time to come forward with the comprehensive movement to achieve the expected position in the current market. [pic][pic]

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