State-owned mobile operator Teletalk yesterday signed two separate deals worth $33.1 million with equipment vendors Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell (ASB) to expand its network for both 2G and 3G services.
Under the agreements, Teletalk will set up 942 new 3G sites and 1,240 2G sites in Dhaka, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet divisions.
Gias Uddin Ahmed, managing director of Teletalk, Nicolas Bouverot, market unit head of Nokia for South Asia, and Roland Reynier, Bangladesh country head of Nokia, signed the deals at a ceremony at the secretariat.
Reynier represented ASB at the signing ceremony where Tarana Halim, state minister for telecom, was also present.
As ASB has recently merged its operations with Nokia, the network expansion work will be done solely by Nokia, officials said. Both the projects, to be funded by Teletalk, will be complete by June 2018.
Teletalk currently runs another project of network expansion for 3G services at a cost of $39.2 million. China vendor Huawei won the contract to set up 559 3G sites.
Tarana said, after the completion of the three projects, Teletalk will be strong enough to compete with private mobile operators.
“New investments will help the operator become a strong contender and we want to complete all these projects before offering the mobile number portability (MNP) option.”
MNP will enable customers to switch operators anytime without changing their numbers.
Ahmed of Teletalk said they have 1,562 3G sites and the new projects will take the number to 3,063.
The finance ministry is now scrutinising another project worth Tk 610 crore in China funds to install 1,200 3G sites for the operator.
“The expansion and upgradation will improve Teletalk's core network, transmission network and access network and people in remote areas will easily get its services,” Ahmed said.
Tarana said nearly 8,000 base transceiver stations are needed for Teletalk to expand its network, but the operator now has only 3,750 BTSs.