Implementation work has already started and upon completion, GrameenPhone will be able to expand its coverage throughout Bangladesh. In addition, the Ericsson equipment and solutions delivered to GrameenPhone are GPRS-ready. This future-proof feature will deliver long-term investment protection for GrameenPhone. The technology will enable the company to deliver more exciting, colorful, data-rich services and applications such as multimedia messaging and gaming.
The signing of the frame agreement marks an extension of the long-standing partnership between the two companies that started in 1997, when Ericsson was appointed as the supplier by the company to design, implement and commission its GSM network in Bangladesh. GrameenPhone recently upgraded its pre-paid system through the supply and installation of Ericsson Pre-Paid System (PPS) solution. GrameenPhone's present range of mobile services includes Short Message Services (SMS), Voice Mail Services(VMS) and pre-paid services.
"GrameenPhone has so far invested more than USD 260 million since its inception in 1997, while it has invested USD 45 million in 2002 alone. We are going to invest another USD 55 million this year and with our current expansion plans, we will continue to make similar investments in the years to come," said Mr. Ola Ree, managing director of GrameenPhone.
"The signing of this agreement truly demonstrates GrameenPhone's continuous support and confidence in Ericsson's partnership, technology and expertise. We are delighted and honored to have been selected for this prestigious project," says Mr. Mats Bosrup, managing director, Ericsson, Bangladesh.
Ericsson is shaping the future of Mobile and Broadband Internet communications through its continuous technology leadership. Providing innovative solutions in more than 140 countries, Ericsson is helping to create the most powerful communication companies in the world.
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GrameenPhone is the largest cellular operator in Bangladesh with more than One Million subscribers. The GP network now has coverage in 54 out of the 64 districts of the country with 595 base stations in operation. Since its inception in March 1997, the company has invested some USD260 million.
Over the years, GrameenPhone has always been a pioneer in introducing new and innovative products and services in the country. Faced with limited interconnection channels with the fixed-line network of Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board, GrameenPhone introduced the unique GP-GP or mobile-to-mobile service in 1998. This service went on to become a very successful product and now accounts for over 90 percent of all GP subscribers, helping to make the mobile phone network an alternate network. The mobile-to-mobile product is now being replicated in some developing countries, as it was found to be more economical to render telecommunication facilities to the people compared to land-line telephones.
In 1997, GP introduced the Village Phone Program. The internationally acclaimed Village Phone works as an owner-operated pay phone providing telecommunications services in rural areas where no such facilities existed before while providing the Village Phone operators, mostly rural poor women, a good income-earning opportunity. Presently, there are more than 32,000 Village Phones in operation, providing access to telephone facilities to some 50 million people living in remote rural areas.
GrameenPhone is a joint venture among four companies from four countries in three continents: Telenor Mobile Communications AS of Norway, Grameen Telecom, a sister concern of the micro-credit pioneering institution Grameen Bank, of Bangladesh, Marubeni Corporation of Japan and Gonofone Development Corp., a US-based investment firm.