Chapter 3: Company Background

3.1 Business of the Company
Starting its operations on March 26, 1997, the Independence Day of Bangladesh, Grameenphone has come a long way. It is a joint venture enterprise between Telenoor (62%), the largest telecommunications service provider in Norway with mobile phone operations in 12 other countries, and Grameenphone Telecom corporation (38%), a non-profit sister concern of the internationally acclaimed micro-credit pioneer Grameen Bank.
Over the years, Grameenphone has always been a pioneer in introducing new products and service in the local market. GP was the first company to introduce GSM technology in Bangladesh when it launches its services in March 1997. The technological know-how and managerial expertise of Telenor has been instrumental in setting up such an international standard mobile phone operation in Bangladesh. Being one of the pioneers in developing the GSM service in Europe, Telenor has helped to transfer this knowledge to the local employees over the years.

Grameenphone is one of the largest private sector investments in the country with an accumulated investment of BDT 5200 crore up to December 2005. Grameenphone is also one of the largest taxpayers in the country, having contributed nearly BDT 5000 crore in direct and indirect taxes to the Government Exchequer over the years. Of this amount, BDT 1670 crore was paid in 2005 alone.

GP was also the first operator to introduce the pre-paid service in September 1999. It established the first 24-hour call center, introduced value-added services such as VMS, SMS, fax and data transmission services, international service, WAP, SMS-based push-pull services, EDGE, personal ring back tone and many other product and services.

From the very beginning, Grameenphone placed emphasis on providing good after-sales services. In recent years, the focus has been to provide after-sales within a short distance from where the customers live. There are now more than 600 GP Service Desks across the country covering nearly all upazilas of 61 districts. In addition, there are nine GP Customer Centers in all the divisional cities and they remain open from 8am-8pm everyday including all holidays.

In addition, the village phone program, also started in 1997, provides a good income-earning opportunity to more than 200,000 mostly women, Village phone operators living in rural areas. The village phone program is a unique initiative to provide universal access to telecommunications service in remote, rural areas. Administrated by Grameen Telecom Corporation, it enables rural people who normally cannot afford to own a telephone to avail the service while providing the VP operators an opportunity to earn a living.

The village phone initiative was given the “GSM in the community” award at the global GSM congress held in Cannes, France in February 2000. Grameenphone was also adjudged the best Joint Venture Enterprise of the Year at the Bangladesh Business Awards in 2002.

3.2 Ownership Structure

  • About Telenor
Telenor, as is the leading Telecommunications Company of Norway listed in the Oslo and NASDAQ Stock Exchanges. It owns 62% shares of Grameenphone Ltd. Telenor have played a pioneering role in development of cellular communications.

It has substantial international operations in mobile telephony, satellite operations and pay television services. In addition to Norway and Bangladesh, Telenor owns GSM companies in Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Montenrgro, Thailand, Malaysia and Pakistan.
Telenor uses the expertise it has gained in it’s home and international markets for the development of emerging markets like Bangladesh Group revenues for 2005 reached NOK 68.9 billion – a growth of 14 percent compared to 2004. at year end 2005, Telenor employed 27,600 people (man-years) – 16,700 of whom were employed outside Norway.
About Grameen Telecom
Grameen Telecom Corporation, which owns 38% of the shares of Grameenphone, is a non-for-profit company and works in close collaboration with Grameen Bank. The internationally reputed bank for the poor, has the most extensive rural banking network and expertise in micro finance. It understands the economic needs of the rural population, in particular the women from the poorest households.

Grameen Telecom, with the help of Grameen Bank, administers the Village Phone Program, through which Grameenphone provides the services to the fast growing rural customers. Grameen Telecom trains the operators, supplies them with handsets and handles all service-related issues.

Grameen Bank currently covers more than 67,000 villages which are serviced by 2121 bank branches all over the country side. As of May 2006, the bank had 6.33 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom were women.

Grameen Telecom’s objectives are to provide easy access to GSM cellular services in rural Bangladesh, creating new opportunities for income generation through self-employment by providing villagers with access to modern information and communication based technologies.  
  • Critical Events and Milestones
Grameenphone Ltd. has stepped into its 11th year of operation, having completed its tenth year on March 26, 2007.It is the leading telecommunications service provider in the country with more than 37.633 million subscribers as of end of March 2012.
Grameenphone has been recognized for building a quality network with the widest coverage across the country while offering innovative products and services and committed after-sales service.

November 28, 1996
: Grameenphone Ltd. was offered a cellular license in Bangladesh by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

March 26, 1997: Grameenphone launched its service on the Independence Day of Bangladesh.

June 1998
: Grameenphone started its services in the port city of Chittagong, the second largest city in the country. Cell to cell coverage in the Dhaka-Chittagong corridor also enabled GP to introduce its service in a number of other districts along the way.

Grameenphone started its service in the industrial city of Khulna. Once again, a number of other districts came under coverage of Grameenphone because of the cell to cell coverage between Dhaka and Khulna.

2000: Grameenphone started its services in Sylhet, Barisal and Rajshahi, bringing all six divisional headquarters under the coverage of its network. The service in Barisal region was started after the microwave link between Khulna and Chittagong was completed.
Grameenphone has so far been a pioneer in introducing innovative cellular telephone products and services to the market. Earlier in September 1999, it introduced the EASY pre-paid service in the local market. It also introduced the Voice Mail Service (VMS) and the Short Message Service (SMS) and other value-added services.

August 2003: After six years of operation, Grameenphone has more than one million subscribers.
November 2005: Grameenphone continues to being the largest telecommunication operator of Bangladesh with more than 5 million subscribers.

November 2006: Grameenphone crosses the 10 million subscriber mark.

September 2007: Grameenphone marks 15 million subscribers.

March 2012: Grameenphone marks 37.633 million subscribers.

3.3 Organ gram of Grameenphone

Grameenphone places a high value on human resource development and the contributions made by its employees. They persevere to maintain a productive and harmonious working environment in the whole organization. GP always continues with its efforts to improve the efficiency of its employees and align them to the right positions with well-defined responsibilities.
Because of the rapid expansions of GP’s networks and enormous growth of its subscriber base, the company has increased its workforce. GP has successfully hired some key senior managers who were recruited on the basis of their professional expertise and experience. In order to cope up with the dynamic nature of the company’s business, initiatives are always taken to restructure and reorganize the company’s existing set up. It always evolves standardized management systems and procedures across functional divisions, focusing in particular, on the effective integration and assimilation of all the organizational units.

As of January’12

The organogram indicates that the top-level management is CEO. The chief Executive officer (CEO) monitors the direct operations of the company. Next position is Senior Assistant to CEO. Then come the divisions- Public Relations, Human Resources and Corporate Affairs. CHQ, Financial Services, Cost efficiency and Climate Strategy are the special initiatives which are newly included.. The CEO is the direct supervisor of all the divisions and departments. Currently, there are six divisions in GP. These are: Finance, Networks, Information Technology, Sales, Marketing and Customer Services The chief of the divisions are called the general manager (GM). Conversely, the chief of the departments are called Deputy General Manager (DGM). Then come the position Assistant General Manager (AGM) and the heads of the departments are on the equivalent rank of the AGMs. Divisions deal with the core activities of the company, whereas the departments deal with the supporting activities. Every division has precise units and there is a head for every unit.
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