Title: Deregulating the local loop: the telecommunications regulation path less chosen as taken by Bangladesh

Authors: L. Jean Camp, Brian L. Anderson

Addresses: Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA. UUNET, USA

Abstract: The latter half of the last decade was witness to significant changes in the regulatory environment in Bangladesh. Various forms of competition have been allowed into the telecommunications landscape, most notably involving wireless technology. Bangladesh has taken a unique road in deregulation of telecommunications. Bangladesh has competition only in the local loop internal and international long distance remains a monopoly. Using the lens of GrameenPhone, we view the regulatory innovations in Bangladesh and conclude that such regulatory experiments are certainly worthwhile, if not always optimal, and thereby implicitly oppose the economic orthodoxy of complete deregulation and immediate privatisation as supported by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In 1996, the wireline network in Bangladesh was in dismal shape. The same year, wireless licensing was expanded. One of the wireless providers to surface soon thereafter was a subsidiary of Grameen Bank, the premier development organisation in the region. This paper will discuss how regulatory changes in Bangladesh enabled GrameenPhone (the cellular provider under Grameen Bank) to offer a development program for the explicit purpose of expanding access to POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). The GrameenPhone Village Program, Grameen|s telecommunications for development initiative, offers a potentially sustainable solution to poor connectivity in rural Bangladesh. The programme achieves this end by combining the use of new technology with a unique entrepreneurial approach to marketing and financing their service. Is that because of or despite the regulation? This is the question we explore. A previous version of this paper was presented at the Internet Society Annual Meeting INET 2000.

Keywords: regulation; Bangladesh; wireless; local loop; GSM; competition.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTPM.2001.001747

International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management, 2001 Vol.1 No.1, pp.100-114

Published online: 18 Aug 2003 *

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