Banglalink is the third largest cellular service provider in Bangladesh with about 36 million users. The company is currently ranked third but Banglalink was ranked second among the country’s five cellular service providers for a long time. Banglalink was able to compete with other market operators through competitive pricing and branding, however, they were unable to retain their position. Nowadays the media presence of the company has dramatically reduced and their TVC or Advertisements can not attract customers.
History of Banglalink
Banglalink started its journey in 1989 as “Sheba Telecom”. Sheba Telecom Pvt. Ltd. was established as a joint venture between Bangladeshi local company ‘Integrated Services Limited’ and Malaysia-based Conglomerate ‘Technology Research Industries.’ In the same year, the company got licenses of telecommunication service providers in 199 upazilas.
After Bangladesh Telegraph & Telecom Board started issuing wireless telecommunication licenses, in 1996 the company collected GSM licenses from BTTB to provide cellular mobile and radio telephone service. Using Wireless Local Loop or WLL technology, the company continued to provide services and gained a lot of recognition. In July 2004, Egyptian conglomerate Orascom Telecom bought the entire stake in Technology Research Industries for 25 million. In October of that year, Orascom bought all the shares of Sheba Telecom for 60 million USD, acquired full ownership of the company and began rebranding. At that time, the number of users of Sheba Telecom was only 59,000. On 10 February 2005, Orascom Telecom rebranded Sheba Telecom and relaunched it as “Banglalink”. Which was a turning point for the organization. Because in December of that year, the total number of users of the company exceeded 1 million.
Rise of Banglalink
When Banglalink started offering free incoming calls to postpaid and prepaid operators in 2006, it started getting good responses from users. As a result, the number of users increased by 257 percent to 3.64 million at the end of that year. From the beginning, Banglalink was offering lower call rates than other operators in the country. In addition, Banglalink launched their “Desh” package in 2006-07. The company releases several advertisements for the promotion of the package. At that time, the advertisements of Banglalink were full of youthful and interesting jingles. Which was quite successful in attracting young users. As a result, at the end of 2007, on the basis of subscriber acquisitions, Banglalink became the second largest market player behind all other operators in the country.
Grameenphone was the market leader then. Since Banglalink was offering call rates at a lower price than Grameenphone at that time, users were becoming more attracted to the company. Sheba Telecom (Pvt) Limited was renamed Orascom Telecom Bangladesh Limited in March 2008. By July of that year, the number of their users stood at 10 million. In the first quarter of the 2008-09 fiscal year, Banglalink’s revenue was 132 million USD, which was 70% more than the same period last year. In April 2009, the number of Banglalink users was 10.90 million. Meanwhile, on May 21, 2009, a report in The Daily Star revealed that Banglalink might merge with the third-ranked mobile operator “Aktel”, but the merger was not successful and Banglalink was the second-largest mobile network operator in the country with a market share of 26.45% that year.
In February 2010, two of the country’s top mobile phone operating companies, Grameenphone and Banglalink, decided to set up network infrastructure in rural areas. In May of that year, Bangladeshi WiMAX wireless broadband operator “Augere,” entered into an agreement with Banglalink for Transmission Bandwidth Lease. At the end of 2010, the number of Banglalink users increased to 19.3 million and by February 2011, the number of users exceeded 20 million. In April of that year, VEON bought 51.9% stake in Banglalink’s parent company Global Telecom Holding. In January 2012, the number of Banglalink users stood at about 24 million.
In July 2013, Banglalink entered into an agreement with Huawei Technologies to expand network capacity and launch 3G services. Under the agreement, the company invested 300 million USD to develop its network infrastructure in the Bangladesh market. When the company launched 3G service on October 23 of the same year, Banglalink got 12,000 3G users in less than two weeks. As of January 2014, the company had about 29 million users. In May of that year, Banglalink was able to expand its 3G service to 7 divisions of the country. As a result, at the end of 2014, the number of their users stood at 30.90 million and at the end of 2015, the number of users increased at a conventional rate of about 33 million. And till then Banglalink was the second top mobile network operator in the country.
Reasons Behind the Fall of Banglalink
When the Robi-Airtel merger was announced in August 2015, and completed in January 2016, Robi-Axiata became the second largest operator in Bangladesh with a user base of over 36 million. At that time, Banglalink had more than 32 million users, and Banglalink lost its market position to Robi-Airtel’s combined subscriber base. Banglalink’s user base continued to decline in 2017 and in January of that year, the number of users was less than 32 million. In addition to the decline in user base, the company’s revenue fell by 4.6 percent year-on-year to BDT 4,650 crore. In August 2018, BTRC fixed the minimum call rate for mobile operators in Bangladesh at 45 paisa per minute. Besides, other operators were also keeping their call rates close to the minimum amount. As a result, the packages or services offered by Banglalink were affordable but it could not attract users. On the other hand, although the rest of the operators have already given priority to a strong network and quick services, Banglalink’s network infrastructure fell short compared to the competition. As a result, the company was gradually losing acceptance to the users. At the end of 2018, Banglalink was able to generate a total revenue of BDT 4,365 crore, which was less than their 2017 revenue.
Banglalink’s Current Situation
In 2019, Banglalink brought some changes in their business line-up. Due to which Banglalink launched a new video streaming app called Toffee. Initially, the app started with 70 channels, but now there are around 100 live channels.
In the same year, Banglalink’s revenue increased by 3.7 percent to BDT 4,530 crore. In January 2020, the number of their users increased to about 35 million compared to the previous year. At the end of the second quarter of that year, the company was able to generate revenue of BDT 1110 crore. As of January 2021, Banglalink currently has 35.55 million subscribers.
At the end of the last decade, the market share of Banglalink was 26.45% in 2009, but in January 2021, the market share of the company stood at 20.6%. In addition to losing the second position in terms of subscribers as a result of the merger of Robi-Airtel, the company has also lost its market share in the last decade due to its inability to acquire new customers by competing with other operators. Although Banglalink has been positioning itself targeting the youth generation of Bangladesh from the very beginning, they have lost their position to Airtel. Besides, with the competitive pricing of Robi and Airtel, Banglalink was not doing well in the price game. After that, Banglalink wanted to position itself by targeting professionals, but in competition with Grameenphone, Banglalink could not achieve that place. How about you? I like sweets! I am proud to say Sweet Bonanza Candyland has one of the best live dealer games. This slick game wheel game offers sugary treats with x100 multipliers boosting it. The Sweet Bonanza Candyland live dealer game is played on a giant wheel. Read the full Sweet Bonanza Candyland review, get bonuses and Play live based on the sugar-filled sweet bonanza game, but this is entirely different, with no sequel. Sugar Bonanza Candyland has an RTP of 96.33% that pays 20,000 times the bets. More info you find on sweetbonanzalive.net.
Grameenphone and Robi have also maintained their presence in the market through various event sponsorships and programs around the country. In addition, the two companies were introducing a number of digital services at different times along with the growth of start-up culture in the country. On the other hand, Banglalink is lagging behind in introducing digital services. Although the company has reduced such activities as part of its cost-cutting, it has also lost a lot of its previous image in the market. Banglalink was once known for its innovation, better network infrastructure, superior service, but now Banglalink is slowly losing that position in the minds of its customers. According to a 2020 article in The Business Standard, Eric Aas, CEO of Banglalink said that now is not the right time to launch 5G technology in Bangladesh. While the other two operators Grameenphone and Robi Bangladesh are already working on building their 5G infrastructure. Now it remains to be seen whether the company will be able to maintain its position in the Bangladesh market at all without an effective 5G roadmap and adequate digital services for the new generation of customers.