Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (right video picture) makes a video call with President Zillur Rahman (left video picture R) at the inauguration for "Commercial Testing of 3G technology of Teletalk" in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, on Oct. 14, 2012. Teletalk is the first company to introduce 3G system into Bangladesh. (Xinhua/Zheng Jianghua)
DHAKA, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh has officially entered the next generation of wireless communications when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday inaugurated the long-awaited 3G or third generation mobile services via a state-run cellphone operator Teletalk.
Prime Minister Hasina launched the cutting-edge technology by making a 3G-enabled mobile phone call to President Zillur Rahman from a formal ceremony at Bangabandhu International Conference Center, formerly known as China-Bangladesh Friendship Conference Center, in capital Dhaka.
With the launch of the next generation services, she said Bangladesh's millions of cellphone users will now have access to high-speed 3G Internet through their mobile phones at a relatively lower rate.
3G system enhances the services such as multimedia, high speed mobile broadband, internet access with the ability to view video footage on mobile handset.
Experts say the launch of 3G services could assist in minimizing the "digital divide" in Bangladesh, a country being poorly served by broadband Internet services.
Talking over phone with Prime Minister Hasina, President Zillur Rahman said the launch of 3G technology in Bangladesh, which is undergoing fast structural changes and vivid economic growth, is expected to put the country's telecom growth on a fast track.
He said Bangladesh made a step forward in implementing its vision to create a Digital Bangladesh with the introduction of the 3G services via state-run Teletalk, which was supposed to launch the service in March for six months.
According to officials, Teletalk's 3G services would initially be available in capital Dhaka and later in other cities and towns. Teletalk got the opportunity to launch 3G before other private operators as being the state-run cell phone operator, they said.
But the official said that the state-run company will have to pay for 3G spectrum the same amount of money other private operators spend although it does not need to take part in an auction.
Bangladeshi telecommunications ministry, which is now finalizing the draft of the 3G guideline, will award licenses to run the third generation mobile services through an open auction in the shortest possible time, officials said.
At a high-profile meeting in August this year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered issuance of 3G licences to mobile phone operators as soon as possible.
Leading global telecom vendors -- Ericsson and Huawei -- are already running 3G trials in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh's five private cellphone operators have long been demanding for hastening the process of awarding licenses to run 3G mobile services which, they think, can boost the country's telecom growth.
Against this backdrop, the Bangladeshi government in June this year signed a loan agreement worth 211 million U.S. dollars with the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim Bank) to support the South Asian country's efforts in introduction of 3G and expansion of 2.5G network.
At least four slots of bandwidth will be sold off at the open auction, a BTRC official who preferred to be unnamed had earlier said, adding almost all the big operators in the country's telecom sector like Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink and Airtel are expected to bid for the 3G spectrum.
Apart from Bangladesh's big private cellphone operators, he said foreign companies will also be able to take part in the auction to run 3G technology here where the total number of mobile phone subscribers reached 95.528 million at the end of August with nearly 1 million new users in the last month.
The latest BTRC data showed the number of subscribers of six cellphone operators -- Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel, Citycell, Teletalk -- stood at 39.803 million, 25.743 million, 20. 144 million, 6.784 million, 1.683 million and 1.367 million respectively by the end of August.