Foreign cos control VAS business of mobile communication
The country`s value added service (VAS) business related to the mobile communication is controlled by the foreign companies despite having a number of domestic firms.
Foreign entities are enjoying almost 60 per cent shares of the total Tk 1.10 billion VAS market while rest 40 per cent is going to local hands, according to the data of industry insiders.
VAS is a growing sector in the country that has tremendous possibility to generate employment by boosting the local entrepreneurships, said secretary general of Content Providers and Aggregators Association of Bangladesh (CPAAB) Faisal Alim.
However, he appreciated the telecom regulator for taking initiative to formulate VAS guideline giving priority to the local entrepreneurs as it will ensure their rights of getting proper value of their creative products.
Now, people widely use their handsets to play games, download ringtones, read news headlines, surf the internet, listen and compose music, avail information from the banks, railways and airlines, check exam results or participate in contests etc. All these belong to mobile VAS.
Talking about contribution of mobile VAS, Mr Alim told the FE that the sector's input is 3 to 4 per cent in revenue generation in the country while in India it generates 17 to 18 per cent of total revenue from mobile telecommunication sector.
Country's noted ICT expert Mustafa Jabbar said that different kind of services would be totally mobile phone oriented in future due to the cumulative demand from people.
He said the BTRC's initiative would protect the small entrepreneurs from the clasp of big companies and help them to survive their business. It also creates employment opportunities for a large number of local people and brings market diversification, he added.
According to the content providers, Indian firms are enjoying almost lion shares of Bangladeshi VAS market. Of the firms, one Indian content provider has grabbed almost 30 per cent market shares of total VAS.
CPAAB secretary said 30-35 local firms are working for development of mobile contents. Of the firms, TTBC Limited, Communication -2 Pvt. Ltd, Wintel Limited, Winsources Limited, PROMITI Computers and Network Pvt. Limited, JOSHBOX (M .M. Services Ltd), ICET, SSLE (Software Solution & Logistic Enterprise), BUZZ (E.B. Solutions Ltd.), Workstation, VU Mobile, SSD-Tech and DNS Software are performing better.
Telecom watchdog is formulating a policy on VAS giving priority to local entrepreneurs with a view to giving individual shape to the sector from separating mobile operators.
Bangladesh Telecommuni-cation Regulatory Commmission (BTRC) Chairman Zia Ahmed said the objective of the guideline, which is now available for public opinions, is to recognise the sector as an industry.
He told the FE that "VAS licence will be given only to local entrepreneurs not any foreign company" adding "the market of VAS is so small in the telecommunication sector".
Local content providers will get opportunity for bargaining for their products, if the policy is matured, said Mr Ahmed and added that 'We have to protect local firms'.
But mobile operators opposed the initiative of regulator saying it will hinder the growth of the sector due to separation of licence from operators.
Chief Communications Officer of Grameenphone Kazi Monirul Kabir thinks that the growth of the sector will not be ensured through price protection, even the guideline will create complexity in telecom sector.
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