GrameenPhone (GP) is the largest cell-phone operator in Bangladesh. GP was given the cellular license in 28th November 1996 by the ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. Later in March 26th 1997, they offered their service in Dhaka city and gradually covered the entire country. GP, in collaboration with Grameen Bank, is aiming to place one phone in each village to contribute significantly to the economic uplift of those villages. GP’s basic strategy is coverage of both urban and rural areas. In contrast to the “island” strategy followed by some companies, which involves connecting isolated islands of urban coverage through transmission links, GP builds continuous coverage, cell after cell. While the intensity of coverage may vary from area to area depending on market conditions, the basic strategy of cell-to-cell coverage is applied throughout GP’s network. GP employ’s a large number of employees who are young, dedicated and energetic. GP knows that the talents and energy of its employees are critical to its operation and treats them accordingly.
The technology used by GP can only be described as state of the art. GP’s Global System for Mobile or GSM technology is the most widely accepted digital system in the world, currently used by over 300 million people in 150 countries. GSM brings the most advanced developments in cellular technology at a reasonable cost by spurring severe competition among manufacturers and driving down the cost of equipment. Thus consumers get the best for the least.
Some Products and Services Offered by GrameenPhone
Value Added Service(VAS)
GrameenPhone also introduced a number of value-added services during the last eight years. It may be noted that GrameenPhone was the first mobile phone operator in the country to introduce value-added services like Voice Mail Service, Text Mail Service and fax and data transmission services. GrameenPhone also launched the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP).
International Roaming (IR)
The International Roaming facility is another useful service provided by GrameenPhone. Subscribers of the GP Regular and Anytime 450 service can use their mobile phones in many foreign countries with this facility while subscribers of other networks can also use their mobile phones when they are in Bangladesh. Presently GrameenPhone has International Roaming agreements with more than 240 mobile phone operators in 80 countries.
To avail International Roaming, a GP subscriber must contact GP’s Sales Center in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, or Khulna; and payments should be made through International Credit cards from a dollar denominated account.
The user would be able to chat through SMS with many friends at once through the mobile phone.
SMS (Short Message Service)
With this service, you can receive and send Text Messages (a maximum of 160 characters per message) to any GP or other mobile and to foreign operators’ (international) mobiles as well (conditions apply).
SMS Push-Pull Services
With Push-Pull service, you can enjoy more than 160 contents (Ex: Usage Info, Payment Status of last bill, Sports news, Emergency numbers, Restaurants, Airline and Railway timing, travel info etc.).
Voice Mail Service (VMS)
VMS works like an answering machine. When you are not available or outside the coverage area or simply busy, the caller can leave a message in your voice mail box, which you may listen or retrieve at your convenience.
Fax and Data
This service enables a GrameenPhone subscriber to send/receive fax and data through their handsets by connecting to a PC/Laptop. Currently, this service is offered to corporate clients only.
EDGE / GPRS service
This service allows the subscribers to browse the internet, send or receive e-mails and use all the advances of multi-media messaging in a 3rd generation mobile environment.
Cell E-mail is a state-of the art Technology which offers e-mail service through SMS. It possesses almost all the aspects of standard webmail and most importantly it is compatible with almost all GSM handset. Thus providing a way to use email to the subscribers who don’t have access to Internet. Informe Limited a local ICT solution Provider company is providing the solution on behalf of GrameenPhone Ltd.
Hotline Service 121
24 Hour Customer Services regarding any problems
GrameenPhone designs new product and redesign exiting product according to the expectation of customers. After an extensive cost benefit analysis it introduces new product and redesign existing product. Prepaid and Djuice is the result of the demand of customers which cover a large portion of total customers.
Product & Market Planning Department (P & MP) is a vital part of GrameenPhone in terms of its importance and role. The central innovative department of GrameenPhone is the P & MP department. This department facilitates communication between the different departments about existing and new products / packages of GrameenPhone. P & MP also manages and co-ordinates information about different products. P & MP evaluate the possibilities and develop new products.
P & PM is responsible for communication with different departments about existing products. P & MP gets feedback from Sales, Customer Relation and Market Communication departments regarding Customer needs and Market requirements. Feedback helps in redefining an existing product.
New ideas are developed after evaluation of market demands. P & MP gives shape and form to berg ideas in the process of developing a new product. P & MP is responsible to co-ordinate with Operation & Maintenance, Information System and Billing departments to get solutions check the functionality of Product features and prices. Bundling and un-Bundling of services to create new packages can be a useful way of satisfying customer needs.
P & MP facilitates launch of the products within GrameenPhone. Training and support for a product to all departments within GrameenPhone is also the responsibility of this department. P & MP develops the main marketing message for products working closely with marketing department. P & MP develops the main marketing message for products working closely with marketing department. P & MP will also support Sales and Customer Care department about new product launch.
GP’s objective is to improve peoples’ lives by giving them the access to telecommunication, to reach out to the people residing in the rural areas and connecting them to the entire nation and abroad. Keeping this in mind GP introduced its service at an affordable price for everyone.
The positioning of GP is done based on the following:
– “We cover the most” – GP provides the widest coverage, in other words, GP’s service is available in most areas of the country catering to the latent demand of a greater mass of people.
– “In the hands of the people” – GP is for everyone. With a low startup cost everyone with the need of Tele connectivity could afford to have a GP connection. GP connection is aimed at everyone.
– Reliable – GrameenPhone is a joint venture with foreign bodies having secured source of fund and therefore has the confidence of the people that, like so many other local companies, GP will not wind up within a short span of time.
– Socially responsible company – By serving the general public as opposed to the niche market GP is connecting to a wider population. Also focusing in the rural areas means connecting to the mass market and therefore contributing to the economic development of the country.
– GP has strived to facilitate telecommunication in the country and is viewed as the market leader in the telecom industry. The brand of GP is talked about in the same level as Coca-Cola, Lever Brothers and other pioneering companies in other industries in Bangladesh.
Telecommunication is changing at an astounding speed around the world, driven by the convergence of technologies. However, Bangladesh is one of the least penetrated mobile communication markets in the world. The potential growth of telecom sector in Bangladesh is bright, due to the country’s large population and relatively a small number of phones. But over the past few years this rate has increased gradually. GrameenPhone is playing a leading role in this telecommunication revolution in Bangladesh. Even though GP was not the pioneer of cellular phones in the country, GP was the pioneer in making it available to the mass people.
GP is committed to build on its already strong brand equity, and the company has already achieved a high level of recognition after only three years in the market. Branding is very important in a developing country like Bangladesh where consumer confidence is essential to growth.
The GP brand is associated with integrity, commitment to the community, professionalism and characteristics which are all reflected in the company’s advertising, Point of Sales displays, and customer service. GP is also committed to acting honestly in its dealings with its customers, its distribution partners, its suppliers, and government institutions and other stakeholders.
With regard to community commitment and social responsibility, GP’s association with Grameen Bank has a major positive impact, as Grameen Bank is well known throughout Bangladesh and abroad as a catalyst for the betterment of socio-economic conditions of the poor. The Village Phone Program furthers the image of socially responsible business. GP has also been very visible through other community activities such as a sponsorship of the Asia Cup.
The company is also recognized as being highly market driven with high visibility both in the print media and outside advertisement. The GP brand incites curiosity and interest across all walks of life which is reflected by the coverage received from local and international media.
GP uses frequent campaigns to drive subscriber growth. The campaigns are based on promotional pricing and take place roughly every other month. The offer generally includes discounted handsets with introductory services. During the campaigns, GP runs heavy outdoor advertising and inserts in major newspapers, and always partners with point of sales in all six geographical divisions. The largest campaigns are run in conjunction with major holidays such as during Eid, Ramadan, Bangla New Year etc. to encourage high volume sale when people are in a buying mood.
GP’s distribution channel is one of its competitive strengths in relation to its competitors. Currently, there are 180 outlets (compared to the nearest competitor with 40) that account for 95% of total sales. The goal is to be widely available and accessible in all areas of the country for new and existing subscribers.
GP also takes a more active role in partnering with the distribution partners than its competition. All newspaper advertising is done in conjunction with the channel to help build channel business. In order to build a tighter relationship with its outlets, GP is developing training programs to help them target and retain customers more effectively, as well as building a remote automated service activation system.
Branding at the point of service is very important to GP. All outlets display prominent standardized GP signs and displays. Interior profiling of the outlets have been developed and it is under further development so that all GP outlets have similar design and decorum to give a feeling of uniformity to everyone entering any GP outlet.
Distribution Network: At present GrameenPhone has the largest number of Distribution channels (180 Point of sales) compared to the other operators. We would like to maintain the largest distribution network by having approximately 350 points of sale in the short term and 575 in the long term.
Coverage: GP has the largest and fastest growing mobile network in Bangladesh, with 251 base stations and 660 cells all over the country. GP’s coverage, i.e. area of service, is not confined to isolated islands of cities; rather it is rapidly expanding through continuous corridors that connect cities and towns.
Market Share: GrameenPhone at present owns 63.9% of the market share and is the Market leader in terms of coverage and subscriber base. GrameenPhone would like to continue to be the market leader in both short term and long term perspective.
Corporate Social Responsibility
As a socially responsible company, GrameenPhone actively participated for the development of cricket in the country, especially for the youth development program of cricket. GrameenPhone recently entered into an agreement to sponsor the Bangladesh National Cricket Team.
GP was also the only company from Bangladesh, which worked for the development of primary education under the auspices of UNICEF. When called upon, GrameenPhone also rendered cooperation to a number of cultural activities, with emphasis on children’s development. Efforts of the GP Family and the continued support of valued subscribers is also very important and which they are committed to have. It is their valued subscribers-for whom they exist. GrameenPhone looks forward to working hand-in-hand for the development of the country.
The orphanage is situated at Vatara Bazar, Baridhara, Dhaka. At present 75 children are residing there. Twenty five staffs are employed for overall look after of the children. The children are aged between 4 and 15 years.
Management committee: The orphanage is a project of CDP (Children development program) and is funded by Telenor, the major (51%) share holder of GP. Telenor is the State owned telecommunication company in Norway operating since 1885. On behalf of Telenor, GrameenPhone provides various services to the dwellers of the orphanage.
General services: The orphanage provides basic need like Food, Clothings, Lodging, Education and Medical services to the dwellers.
Activities of Grameen Phone: Grameen Phone provides basic health service and entertainment facilities to the orphanage round the year.
- a) Regular Check Up: A medical team including Dr. Mohammad Shahnewaz, Manager, Health Safety & Environment of Human Resource Department of GP provided regular general Medical Check Up to the Children & Staff of the orphanage. Yearly twice
- b) Nutrition Chart: To provide proper nutrition through daily diet for the children, GP expert team supplies nutrition charts to the orphanage and supervises the follow-up process.
- c) Need Basis Medical Services: When anybody gets sick in the orphanage GP provides the preliminary medical services.
- d) Preventive Measures: To prevent deadly diseases like Hepatitis B, GP provides Vaccination to the orphans.
- e) Training: Creating awareness about personal hygiene, safety and preventive steps against various common diseases is the main purpose for providing Health & Hygiene training by GP team to the orphanage Staff & Children.
- f) Other: Grameen Phone has donated modern toys and playing equipments to the orphanage play corner with a view to provide entertainment facilities to the children.
Entertainment activities: PICNIC
Outcome: The project is directed to establish the basic foundation of life of the orphans.
Dhaka Shishu Hospital Project
Grameen Phone has sponsored one of the wards of Dhaka Shishu Hospital (ward #4) with various utility facilities like:
a) Pure Drinking Water: A water purifier has been supplied by Grameen Phone to this ward consisting of 54 beds to provide pure drinking water to the patients and their attendants
b) Bed linen, utensils, mosquito net etc are also provided to this ward by GP
c) The maintenance part of this ward is also taken care of by GP.
Preventive & Protective measures against some deadly diseases
i) To create awareness against deadly diseases like dengue GP has published articles dealing with the preventive and protective measure of this disease in their monthly newsletter and in form of booklets.
ii) GP has also provided in field and in house training to create awareness among people of different classes of society.
iii) GP uses its sources in its regional offices in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna And Sylhet to create awareness against this disease in those cities.
Spraying against Mosquito: With collaboration to Dhaka City Corporation GP has sprayed aerosol for destroying mosquito in areas like Fourth class employees colony of D.C.C in Gulshan1,Gp office premises and in locality of Gulshan circle 1 & 2.
Cleanliness Program: GP has sponsored Cleanliness programs in its own locality and in slam areas of Gulshan to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and for healthy environment.
Other Socially Responsible Activities
Awareness about EPI diseases: Grameen Phone has extended its hand of cooperation in generating awareness about EPI diseases by helping UNICEF in arranging various programs in this regard. GP sponsored several programs involving children and parents with UNICEF like seminars, art competitions etc.
Awareness about Asthma: Collaborated with Asthma Association of Bangladesh Grameen Phone has arranged rallies and seminars to create awareness about prevention & treatment of Asthma.
Awareness about Health & Hygiene: Grameen Phone HSSE team has worked extensively to create awareness about personal & community health & hygiene. GP has conducted seminars, rallies, in field and in house training in this regard in its Head office, regional offices and other organizations like EC & Nordic Club. First aid, safety in working place, clean environment etc topics is generally discussed in these awareness programs.
Blood Donation Program: One of prominent social contribution of GP is in the field of Voluntary blood donation. Grameen Phone has sponsored and directly participated in various voluntary Blood Donation Programs around the country with voluntary blood donation organizations like Shandhani and Red Cresent Society.
Each year GP arranges a yearly HSSE (Health, Safety, and Security & Environment) week. One of the regular programs of HSSE week is blood donation camp in GP Head office & regional offices. Moreover round the year GP helps in arranging voluntary Blood Donation camps and works through seminars and camps to produce awareness between mass people about blood donation.
Grameen Phone maintains a database containing the information about blood groups of all the employees. When any employee or his family or friend needs blood, he can contact HSSE personnel and get contacted with the persons having the required blood group.
Plantation Program: Grameen Phone has under taken plantation program in its office premises in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi & Khulna City as a part of their social awareness & responsibility. GP has also planted plants in the road side in areas like Gulshan, Baridhara etc.
Archeological Excavation: GrameenPhone has funded the archeological excavation at Wari-bateshwere (Narshingdi). Archeological findings there have already established presence of civilization of 3000 years old.
Maintenance of Chittagong Railway station (old): GrameenPhone has financed the renovation and continued preservation of old railway station of Chittagong, a national heritage site.