Vol. 5 Num 568 Sat. December 31, 2005  

WorldTel to start operation in Dhaka next March
Plans to sell 100,000 land phones in first phase

WorldTel Ltd, the lone licence holder for providing land phone services in Dhaka zone, will start its operation by next March.

"We hope to start operation in next March with initial capacity of 100,000 lines and increase the number to five lakh by the end of the next year," Nayeem Chowdhury, chief executive officer of WorldTel Ltd, an UK-based telecommunications company, told The Daily Star yesterday.

The company has already imported equipment from Germany and China for providing phone service with wireless local loop (WLL) technology and installation work is going on in full swing, he said.

The company had a plan to launch operation by December but the delay in obtaining allocation of microwave frequency held back the launch, Chowdhury added.

WorldTel is primarily investing around US$ 50 million and will increase it to $300 million.

The company obtained licence from the government in July 2001 to provide 300,000 land phones in Dhaka at an investment of about $300 million on a build-operate-own basis with four years of exclusive right.

There are one million fixed-line phones provided by state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) and more than nine million mobile phone lines, supplied by five operators, in the country of around 140 million people.

The demand for fixed phones in the capital is estimated to be around 10 lakh while the registered demand with the BTTB is about two lakh, sources said. The BTTB does not have the capability to meet the growing demand for land phones due to infrastructural inadequacy.

WorldTel went to court after the telecom regulator cancelled its exclusive right terming it anti-competitive and violative of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Act 2001.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on August 23 this year dismissed WorldTel's petition for retaining its four-year co-exclusive right with BTTB to provide land phone in Dhaka, paving the way for private land phone companies to operate.

The central zone, also known as Dhaka Multi-Exchange Area, covers Dhaka city, Jinjira, Savar, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Tongi, and accounts for about 60 percent of the total demand for fixed phones in the country.