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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Are you Worried? Bharti-Airtel says not to worry!

Are you worried? Do you subscribe to Worried? As finally the Indian mobile behemoth has arrived in Bangladesh with a visa costing them a mere Rupees 45 lakh only and with the promise of juicy hanging mulas worth $300 million (Mula is Bangla term for radish, when we say ‘mula jholano’ it means hanging a radish to imply ‘alluring’, ‘promising big hollow things ahead’ etc.).


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!

6 comments:

shaer said...

Why do you sound so cynical? Are you anti-FDI? Anti-globalization, anti-India or anti-business? It looked like you did not like the idea that Bharti Airtel invested in BD. You also did not sound like liking the idea that at least in telecom sector Bangladesh is an attractive destination for some of the foreign investors.

You did not even hesitate to suggest funny names for the new new entity. And also used taboo words to imply that Bangladesh is going to raped. Does it represent the voice of corporate world of Bangladesh?

What is the source of such hatred?

Hey, I follow this blog since long, and I really do not like to see such cynical post on one of my favorite :).

Shehzaad Shams said...

Shaer,
thanks for your comments and I am happy also to find my name sake. (nick name).

I am rather critical and satirical of our regulators. I am anti-corruption, anti-inefficiency and anti-anything that does not keep us consumers at front first and foremost. I am deeply suspicious of anything unless I see transparency and accountability in consumer rights protections and that massively includes telecom consumers of Bangladesh.

Its certainly a great milestone in history of FDI in Bangladesh, I just hope we are able to lock in home some benefits out of it for longer terms for our local workforce, local users of mobile and local economy. Rest 'aal izz well'.

Rumi Ahmed said...

Good to know your Nick name SS Bhai.
And nicely written post (As always)
Liked the speculations.

I was wondering what will happen to the Employees that are currently working in Warid...As far as I know and heard from others that the Indian and the Pakistani management are one of the worst...anyway time will tell what the hybrid will do in our country.

BTW,
Did you see that http://www.airtel.com.bd/ has been booked by someone named Md. Atiqur Rahman from Sirajganj !!!! :O
and sad for them that www.aritelbd.com is already booked !
so lets see what name they pick and what domain they use...!

nabaroon said...

hi guys! the coming of so many multinational companies to Indian mobile scene has brought prices really low! same will happen at BD-so relax and njoy!Bharti Group is poised to become a world leader soon-it wil pull up Grameen and Aktel to improve their services-so look at any which way ,Bdeshis gain. YOu cant be zenophobic or anti-Mergers & acqusitions these days.for BD>India is the best bet cose its the one(&China) taking on US & Europe headon! cheers

ishtiAq said...

from a neutrals point of view i can say in bangladesh theres no future for indian telecom.... iknow many people who are waiting to throw away their sim card when ever airtel goes public replacing the name warid... as an example i can say theres been so much afford by a LOT of people to market indian cars at bangladesh...infact the cars are cheap.. but still people are ready to buy 3rd hand used japan made cars rather than indian cars...what airtel will get is few university going students who will be amazed to use a phone that shahrukh khan endorses and they wont ccontribute much to the actual revenue of the ccompany because gp and aktel and blink has already got the ppl who actually are the mobile users of bd and for gettin into new market by that i mean ppl who dont use mobile phone
blink and gp already placed themselves as their "OWN" company thanks to the advertisin campaign of the two companys and its never ever possible for an indian company or a pakistani company to make that kind of positioning in the mindset of the people of bangladesh...and i do admit to like the last line of the blogger who wrote this "hum log milke marenge" i am sure thats exactly whats on the mind of SLIGHTLY SELF PROCLAIMED SUPIRIOR NEIGHBOURS OF OURS INDIA AND PAKISTAN THINKS ABT US..THANKS ANYWAY

ishtiAq said...

from a neutrals point of view i can say in bangladesh theres no future for indian telecom.... iknow many people who are waiting to throw away their sim card when ever airtel goes public replacing the name warid... as an example i can say theres been so much afford by a LOT of people to market indian cars at bangladesh...infact the cars are cheap.. but still people are ready to buy 3rd hand used japan made cars rather than indian cars...what airtel will get is few university going students who will be amazed to use a phone that shahrukh khan endorses and they wont ccontribute much to the actual revenue of the ccompany because gp and aktel and blink has already got the ppl who actually are the mobile users of bd and for gettin into new market by that i mean ppl who dont use mobile phone
blink and gp already placed themselves as their "OWN" company thanks to the advertisin campaign of the two companys and its never ever possible for an indian company or a pakistani company to make that kind of positioning in the mindset of the people of bangladesh...