Its no wonder that Bangladesh is the ripest place on planet earth for mobile phone industry. Where else on earth would you get 150 million people crammed inside the largest delta of the world with naturally one of the highest population density per square mile? Where else on earth can you find such a monotonous landscape which is plain and where setting up one BTS (Base Tower Station) would suffice to serve to a greater number of mobile customers, as they literally are living next to, on top of, each other. Forget about voice quality at present and let alone Value Added Services, this market and the consumers are premature enough and would be happy enough to be subscribing to Airtel, so feed them according to their appetite isn’t it?
Warid always seemed Worried right from the word go in Bangladesh. Rumour has it that their entry into the market was questionable and BTRC blessings were bought through speed and cheap money. Other than slashing down air time charges, playing with their logo, encouraging love-birds to talk for cheap or free all night long and distributing branded blankets under the guise of CSR to the distressed, they seemed pretty worried all the way through.So I guess they were happy to have been relieved to be sold off to big brothers across the border where their media is also terming this as a 'distress sale'. Speculations are already underway about this due to the origin of the source country of take over and our bitter-sweet relations with them from time to time ranging from politics, water, sports, immigrants, religion, onions, eggs, sarees, criminals, militants, movies, cable television etc. Some of the speculations include:
--What does this hold for ordinary Bangladeshi mobile users? Reduced tariffs? Value added services? Better voice quality? (a CNG wala who uses mobile during traffic jams in Dhaka)
--Is it a threat to our sovereignty? What if Bharti-Airtel alliance tap sensitive phone conversations from our beloved politicians and export it across borders? (from an Indi-allergic person who loves Bollywood films and TV serials though, watches secretly and usually doesn’t admit it)
--If it were a ‘tata-byebye’ to Tata then why is it a ‘yaya’ to Bharti Airtel? And why now? (from a person who loves to bash the Gov no matter what)
--Will they create more jobs for Bangladeshi graduates? (from a student eager to get into telecom industry)
--Will they make sure that locals represent a significant important number of management positions? (a manager in Aktel thinking of a leap once the take over is complete)
--Will they help ease the Indian visa application processes? (from a frustrated frequent traveller to India)
--Will Airtel fly in Bollywood stars to promote their events in Dhaka? (from an event management executive)
Irrespective of their seriousness or funny-ness, the fact remains that Bangladesh is a mobile cow which everyone had been milking and Bharti-Airtel can also milk for years to come, until the delta vanishes under the sea due to global warming, climate change etc. Foreign Direct Investment of this scale is always welcome, its just that we as consumers are still not sure about the strength of balls of BTRC. Also the lack of any proper implementation of consumer protection rights only keeps us as vulnerable as we had always been. Also, GrameenPhone and Banglalink have been pioneering patriotic marketing thoroughly in their marketing campaigns to gain the mind share of the Bangladeshi youth mobile-sumers who are becoming more and more conscious of their national identity. Wonder what marketing approach Bharti-Airtel would adopt in this case. Also, how would they name their new born? War-tel? Bharid? Its just such a nice example of Indo-Pak management working together to tap the odd man's market (its us :) ). Ab dono milke maarenge!