12 Feb 2013
Bangladesh’s largest cellco by subscribers, GrameenPhone, part of the Telenor group, has reported an 8.2% year-on-year drop in turnover to NOK1.58 billion (USD286 million) in the fourth quarter of 2012, down from NOK1.71 billion a year earlier, as its total number of subscribers decreased by 933,000 in three months to 40.02 million. EBITDA fell correspondingly, by 8% year-on-year to NOK856 million in October-December 2012, while GrameenPhone’s Q4 CAPEX was reduced by 35% to NOK141 million, Telenor reported. TeleGeography says that the dip in total customers – the first quarterly fall since GrameenPhone launched in 1997 – was due to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) imposing a strict ban on selling pre-activated SIM cards to unregistered customers on 12 October 2012. Tough competition also affected results, as the BTRC reports that state-run Teletalk (which recently launched a 3G network) saw a 283,000 net active subscriber increase in Q4, while Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh also achieved respective quarterly net increases of 238,000 and 164,000 users, although second-largest cellco Banglalink was reported to incur a drop in active users of 893,000 to 25.88 million at 31 December 2012 as it was heavily affected by the pre-paid activation regime enforcement.