Digitalization is one of most prioritize agenda of Bangladesh Government. Being expertize in the digital world is not an optional task, it’s important to keep yourself in the worldwide race. Digitalization does not mean only using email, social media or having a chat box in the website, but it has a much broader area to discuss. It includes the automation in a production house, online-based communications, analyzing big data to provide customized service and many more.
Now, where is Bangladesh? The Bangladesh intellectual society has been using digitization as the buzz word. However, the overall growth of Bangladesh digital arenas is being much slower than expected. Bangladesh is yet to adopt technology a change maker instead of a tool. As per Mostafiz Uddin’s view, “The global market of technology-driven clothing is about 150 million, where Bangladesh stake is about zero.” (Source: Dhaka Tribune).
As per BTRC, Bangladesh has 80.483 Million internet subscribers up to December 2017 (Source: btrc.gov.bd). Comparing with other developing countries the internet penetration rate is quite higher. However, usage of Bangladesh internet is being very much limited to specific areas. One of major reason behind this, lack of investment in digital arena to develop proper digital services. Now comparing the Bangladesh economic status and industry modality, we can assume telecom is the industry which can really take Bangladesh in the proper digital world.
Why are telecoms focusing on digital services?
Based on past 5 years’ trend, an impressive boost has been found in internet expansion in Bangladesh. In 2017 total internet connections increased up to 8.05 crore (Source: The Daily Star, 2018). A major portion of this internet penetration rate has been supported by telecommunication industry. Again, massive investment is coming from telecommunication industry on the upcoming 4G internet. In the cumulative figure, the total investment from telecommunication industry is around 22,600 crore taka (Source: The Daily Star; June 20, 2017). All of these actions from telecommunication industry on internet expansion indicates their interest in building a digital platform where the internet would be the core channel of connecting dots.
Bangladesh is already a saturated place to expand the basic telecom facility, however, the internet is yet to explore by the major section of the country. Introducing new and relevant digital services is the way to increase the internet usage. It is because their own interest telecoms focusing more and more on increasing their digital services. Again, this the most relevant product for the telecom industry to deal with and to open up a new road of income as well.
Why the expansion of digital services in Bangladesh highly depended on telecom industry?
From the GDP perspective, it has been found manufacturing, agriculture and service are the major industries in Bangladesh (Source: Bangla Tribune). The overall Bangladesh IT industry is still in its seed stage. These IT firms don’t have financial strength in order to invest in new digital services, especially when there is question mark regarding the market acceptability. However, a special consideration from Bangladesh Government under IT develop project enables a good number of IT organizations to develop new digital services.
Meanwhile, telecom organizations both have the interest and resource to develop digital services. Most of telecom organizations in Bangladesh are having bond with their mother companies where they already build lots of new digital services. They can replicate those services in Bangladesh depends on the usability. Again, Bangladesh telecom industry is having one of most skilled resource to develop something special. So instead of any other industry, telecom is the industry to focus on developing digital services.
Grameenphone is the leader in telecom industry to develop new digital services. Instead of the number, Grameenphone digital wing is focusing mostly on product quality, service depth, diversity and customer usability. GP has highest involvement and invest in digital side in Bangladesh. According to Sigve Brekke, CEO of the Norwegian multinational telecom company, “Digital services are the future and Grameenphone is fully ready to invest in this segment.” (Source: The Daily Star). Till now we have seen that GP has been introduced the digital services related to e-commerce, entertainment, lifestyle, recharge, medical consultancy services, GP account management and many more. Let’s find out Grameenphone’s some major digital service products.
- GP Online Shop: This is an e-commerce website. GP Online Shop is the place where GP showcases the products to sell which are only relevant to the telecom industry. This e-commerce portal is available on GP website. The product variety is very specific here. Also, the product line is very limited. This site is mostly focused on a mobile device and GP SIM. However, the reliability of this site is very high as most of these products are from the authentic source.
- Shoparu: It is another e-commerce showdown from GP and it has a much bigger scope of work then GP Online Shop. Shoparu has much diverse product range and it’s working indecently. It is available in the name of www.shoparu.com. Shoparu is highly focused to create value in the market rather than just playing. This e-commerce website is new in the market and yet to explode with promotional items.
- GP Music: GP Music is the first successful entertainment based digital service of Grameenphone. It offers offline and online based music streaming with a rich local and international music library. It’s available both in website and application format. It has the option to customize your playlist according to user’s music taste. It has 30 days trial period, then you can enjoy this service with a daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly subscription package.
- Bioscope: Bioscope is another popular entertainment based digital product of Grameenphone. This content platform is a joint production of bongobd and GP. It has been launched (website) in September 2016 but found the limelight in 2017. It is still in a beta testing mood. Users would find there the VOD (video on demand), Television content and live channels as well.
- MyGp App: MyGP app is the one-stop solution for all GP related services. In just one glance, users will find all they need to know about their GP account. Basic functions of this App.are quick balance checking, reward points, offers and customer support.
- WoW Box: This is a lifestyle content based mobile application. In this application users will find daily lifestyle tips, daily news & sports updates, horoscope, jokes and etc. The amazing part of this app is that you can earn tokens. These tokens can be used later to purchase internet. However, WoWBox can be browsed without internet and users would get 20MB free every week.
- Tonic: Tonic is one of most innovative digital services product from any Telco in Bangladesh perspective. The objective of this service is to ensure a healthy living plan for all. A GP user can use this digital healthcare service by using any mobile device. It has three different model of subscription. These are Tonic Shurokkha, Tonic Astha, and Tonic Free. Based on the type of the subscription user can enjoy Cashback, discount in a different healthcare organization, doctor appointment and free healthcare related VAS service.
- To visit all GP digital services, visit: www.grameenphone.com
ROBI has a low number of digital services, however, some of these services receive high-quality user review from the market. So far, they have introduced digital service products in e-commerce, entertainment, bill payment, and recharge. Let’s find the details of these below:
- Robi Yonder: Robi Yonder is the most successful digital service product of Robi. It is a music streaming application. Only Robi Active Internet pack users can access this service. It has a vast list of the music library. Users can create their own playlist, share it with their friends. It has Snap Karaoke, offline streaming and many other interesting features to follow.
- Robi Shop: It is the e-commerce service of Robi. It has only three categories of products. These are mobile phone, accessories and bundle offer. The product’s categories are not rich enough to display. However, these products are authentic.
- Robi Cash: This is a Utility bill payment service from Robi. Users can pay Bangladesh Power Development Board bill, DESCO bill, Chittagong WASA Bill, Dhaka WASA Bill and Train tickets through this app. To recharge this mobile wallet user, need to visit “Robi Robi Cash” point.
- iFlix: iFlix is another amazing digital service from Robi. It’s a video on demand service. Without the subscription fee, users can use this service for 3 months (might be changeable based on the device to use). Users will find exciting tv series and movies here. They can stream those here or download those watch later. One account can be used in 5 different devices and 2 devices can be used in simultaneously.
- Image Source; piay.iflix.com
To find all Robi Digital services visit: www.robi.com.bd
Banglalink is the third major telecom who are working with digital service. However, how they showcase their digital service products it is really hard to differentiate the basic VAS service and their core digital service products. The way Banglalink is portraying their digital services products, users might find products are repetitive in the page. Let’s find out some major digital services from Banglalink
- Banglaflix: Banglalink launched Banglaflix in 2016. Banglaflix is a Video on demand service. Users will find HD quality entertainment and relevant contents on this website. This service is accessible from wap, web and app. Users can use this app for 30 days as a trial period. After the trial period ends a specific subscription package need to use in order to use this service.
- Image Source: banglaflix
- Banglalink eShops: This is an e-commerce service from Banglmalink. Users can find devices, handsets, internet connections and bundle offers. In the e-commerce section, users will find wide range of exclusive mobile devices. Product price of this ecom place is mixed. Banglalink shop has multiple ways to specify the product includes brand, OS, display, price and EMI.
- Other services: Banglalink has a lot of other services, but most of these are in developing stage. Some other amazing services are including Banglalink Boi Ghar, mJams and etc.
To Find all Banglalink digital services visit: www.banglalink.net/en
Comparison to digital services of Bangladesh telecom industry:
Service variety: While analyzing the digital services from telecommunication organizations a pattern has been found. Most of the major services are entertainment and e-commerce based. Apart from Grameenphone other telecoms are yet to bring any major variety in the market. However, Banglalink is also having a major diversity in their digital service product list but as mentioned before most of those are in developing stage. Again Robi tried to break the clutter by bringing a bill payment service “Robi Cash”.
Service quality: Grameenphone is way ahead than any other telecom organization in Bangladesh to provide a proper digital service in terms of quality. While using tonic, bioscope (beta), My Gp users would find a full-length digital service quality. A high level of positive review also been found for Robi Yonder Music. From the analysis, we have seen all the telecoms are involved in e-commerce business but all of these are working in a very specific range.
Challenges in developing digital services in Bangladesh for telecom industry
Market Vacuum: From the revenue analysis of top three telecom giant, it has found GP profit raises by 21.4 pc in 2017 (Source: The Daily Star), Robi incurs BDT 2.8 billion loss in 2017 (Source: bdnews24.com) and BL revenue falls 4.57 pc in Q3 of 2017 (Source: The Daily Star). With some adjustment, this is almost a regular picture in Bangladesh telecommunication industry. This situation is creating a market vacuum where the distance between the market leader and other are increasing day by day. As Grameenphone has the strongest market base and has a stronghold in market revenue share, they can invest in digital service more than others. The result is already shown in the upper analysis.
Innovation vs Market Trend: Telecommunication organizations are focusing on only market trend to develop digital products. Current digital services are mostly focused on the entertainment and e-commerce as these are trending keywords right now. However, this leads toward the unwillingness to develop much innovative products which could bring much bigger change in society. GP has broken the clutter and brought “Tonic” an online-based medical service and it’s already made a positive impact in Bangladesh digital industry.
Market Development: According to Dhaka Tribune only 35% people in Bangladesh are using a smartphone. Also, another report from Dhaka Tribune suggests that almost 50% internet has been consumed for Facebook usage. Based on these data, it might be suggested that the market is yet moving in a very small digital arena. It might be a concern whether the digital service based product is yet to feasible enough to run in the market compared to the market demand.
*This is a nonpaid analytical article. If you have any observation on this, please put your comment in below comment box.