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AMTOB PRESS RELEASE
20 September, 2015
AMTOB elects new Executive Council at AGM
The Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) has recently organized its Annual General Meeting and elected Supun Weerasinghe, Managing Director and CEO of Robi, as its President. He is replacing AMTOB's outgoing President and CEO of Banglalink Ziad Shatara.

Airtel's CEO P.D. Sarma has been elected as the Senior Vice-President of the Association's Executive Council and Grameenphone's CEO Rajeev Sethi has been elected as Vice-President of AMTOB.

The Executive Council appointed T.I.M. Nurul Kabir as the Secretary-General & CEO of AMTOB. The AGM, where the new Executive Council was elected, was held on September 20, 2015 at AMTOB secretariat in Dhaka's Gulshan area.

AMTOB is a national trade body representing all mobile telecom operators in Bangladesh. Airtel, Banglalink, Citycell, Grameenphone, Robi and Teletalk – the six mobile network operators are the members of AMTOB and Huawei and Ericsson are its associate members.

AMTOB has emerged as the official voice of the Bangladesh mobile telecom industry to interact with relevant government agencies, regulators financial institutions, civil society, technical bodies, media and other national and international organizations. It provides a forum to discuss and exchange ideas between the stakeholders and industry actors for the development of mobile telecom industry through public private dialogue.

The Association, on behalf of the mobile telecom sector, has been playing a lead role in partnering with the government in realizing Digital Bangladesh objectives.

AMTOB has been at the forefront in upholding the image of the industry among its stakeholders and consumers. It regularly communicates with policy makers and industry think-tanks on the contribution of the sector for socio-economic development of the country. The Association also plays a key role in enabling the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the sector.

Mobile telecom industry is one of the largest employers of the country. The sector is also the biggest source of government's tax revenue.
24 August, 2014
AMTOB Urges Bangladesh Government to Formulate New Telecom Policy


Minister for Posts, Telecommunications & Information Technology Mr. Abdul Latif Siddique, MP addressing as the chief guest at a workshop organized by the GSMA, in cooperation with the AMTOB on “Realizing the potential of mobile in Bangladesh at a locl hotel in the city. (From left) Ms. Irene Ng, Head of Asia of GSMA, Mr. Md. Faizur Rahman Chowdhury, Secretary, Posts & Telecom Division of Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications & Information Technology, Mr. Sunil Kanti Bose, Chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and Mr. Ziad Shatara, Chairman of AMTOB and CEO of Banglalink Digital Communications Ltd also seen in the picture.

The GSMA and AMTOB (Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh) urged the Bangladesh Government to revise the country's decade old telecom policy in order to accommodate the technological development to spur further growth of the sector.

The call was made at a workshop organized by the GSMA, in cooperation with the AMTOB on “Realizing the potential of mobile in Bangladesh”.

Irene Ng, Asia Regional Head of GSMA commented that ““The mobile industry has already contributed a great deal towards the development of economic and social development in Bangladesh. But, more needs to happen to enable the full potential of mobile to be realized and for digital inclusion to take place in Bangladesh. For a start, reforming the legislative and policy framework in Bangladesh is a key component of what needs to happen. In particular, we look forward to the 1998 National Telecoms Policy to be updated to keep up with changing technology and for mobile enabled solutions in the areas of health, education and financial inclusion to be provided to all so that the vision of ‘Digital Bangladesh' can be truly met”.

Minister for Posts, Telecommunications & Information Technology Abdul Latif Siddique, MP said that the mobile telecommunication sector has emerged as an inevitable sector without which no development and progress could take place.

The minister made the comment while addressing the AMTOB/GSMA workshop as the chief guest: He assured the industry that the government would do everything possible considering the contributions of the sector.

T I M Nurul Kabir, Secretary General of AMTOB said “Mobile Network Operators and international organizations support an effective public private dialogue through formation of a committee with government representatives to engage in a review of the current legislative, policy and regulatory framework governing the operations of mobile network operators and to make recommendations around specific reforms to the framework that may be necessary in order to support the realisation of the Government of Bangladesh's Vision 2021 plan' and the associated ‘Perspective Plan 2010-2021' and any further objective that may be set within the forthcoming ‘Vision 2041'.”

Bangladesh is, in many ways, a country ahead of its time in terms of mobile access. Despite being ranked as a low income country, over 50% of the population subscribes to mobile services and has outpaced all its peers in terms of network coverage. The combination of limited disposable income and more mature mobile usage means the customers of Bangladesh are more discerning. Mobile network operators are looking to innovative Value Added Services (VAS) to remain competitive and respond to the slowing growth in core mobile services. Services that add value to and improve on the livelihoods of the consumer are more likely to support these goals.

The use of mobile in driving socio-economic improvement is on the rise. From its pioneering roots in microfinance 30 years ago, the country now has a relatively solid mobile consumer base, much of which are underserved in core life needs. Mobile operators are demonstrating the potential for social VAS, and while we expect this to continue to grow, it will take time.

There is still an opportunity for public and private investment in providing seed capital for the innovation that is not yet ‘market-led', with a key role for government in facilitating this process.

While it is true that the majority of unconnected individuals reside in rural areas, this is due to the fact that the majority of population are in rural areas.

Bangladesh has a myriad of social challenges, including low literacy rates, child malnutrition, and poor access to electricity and a significant urban-rural divide. However, mobile penetration is higher than would be expected given its low-income status. Subscriber penetration reached 40% at the beginning of 2014 and it is expected to grow to 50% by 2020.

Mr. Md. Faizur Rahman Chowdhury, Secretary, Posts & Telecom Division of Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications & Information Technology and Mr. Sunil Kanti Bose, Chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) also spoke on the occasion as the special guests. Earlier, Ms. Irene Ng, Head of Asia of GSMA and Mr. Ziad Shatara, Chairman of AMTOB and CEO of Banglalink Digital Communications Ltd made welcome remarks.
16 June, 2014
Ziad Shatara and Vivek Sood elected new Chairman and Vice-Chairman of AMTOB


The Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB), the platform of all six cellular operators' in the country, announced Mr. Ziad Shatara, CEO of Banglalink Digital Communications Limited and Mr. Vivek Sood, CEO of Grameenphone Limited as Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively of the association's Executive Council.

Mr. Shatara is expected to replace outgoing AMTOB Chairman Mr. Chris Tobit, CEO of Airtel Bangladesh Limited.

The election to the AMTOB Executive Council was held on June 12, 2014 at its secretariat at Gulshan in the city.

"The Mobile telecommunication sector of Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing telecom markets of the world with huge potential. The industry has been significantly contributing to the country's GDP growth. It is one of the largest employers, the largest contributors to the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as well as the biggest source of government's tax revenue in the country.

The telecom sector is a catalyst for the implementation of the government vision of Digital Bangladesh via providing connectivity at an affordable price. The industry is providing one of the lowest call tariffs in the world," said Mr. Ziad Shatara, adding that "a congenial regulatory and taxation policy is crucial for the sector to continue its growth."

"AMTOB has been playing an important role in facilitating and driving a constructive dialogue of all stakeholders with a view on leveraging the full potential of the mobile industry. In my new capacity as Chairman of the association I hope to further raise the profile of the industry and bring to focus the huge potential of this sector and spread the benefit of mobile telecommunication services to grass roots level."

"I firmly believe that the Telecom industry in Bangladesh can play an important role in uplifting the economic condition of the country and its people," said Mr. Vivek Sood, Towards this, the industry needs to collaborate and create a market environment where AMTOB can play a pivotal role in shaping developments that are beneficial to both operators and customers alike."

About AMTOB
Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) is a national trade body representing all mobile telecom operators in Bangladesh. AMTOB has emerged as the official voice of the Bangladesh mobile telecom industry to interact with relevant government agencies, regulators financial institutions, civil society, technical bodies, media and other national and international organizations. It provides a forum to discuss and exchange ideas between the stakeholders and the industry actors for the development of mobile telecom industry through public private dialogue.

AMTOB facilitates an environment which is conducive for its members and industry stakeholders with a view to establish a world class cellular infrastructure for delivering benefits of affordable mobile telephony services to the people of Bangladesh to bridge the digital divide. AMTOB was established in 2001.

Brief Bio:

Mr. Ziad Shatara
Mr. Ziad Shatara joined Banglalink in January 2013 as its Chief Executive Officer. Before joining Banglalink, he was with Wind Telecommunications as its Chief Technology Officer from 2010 until 2012, and its IT director from 2008 until 2010. Prior to joining Wind, Mr. Shatara accumulated regional and international experience exceeding 17 years of proficiency in building, running and expanding operations in telecommunications, cellular business, fixed and broadband networks integration technology. His additional professional expertise correlates to the fields of IT, Customer Service and retail operations. His volume of experience, aptitude and adroit decision-making has culminated into several leading executive positions and board memberships.

Mr. Vivek Sood
Mr. Vivek Sood was appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective from January 07, 2013. Before joining Grameenphone he was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Indian mobile operator Uninor. As CFO of Uninor, he was responsible for setting performance measures and achieving financial goals. His 22 years of experience also includes executive positions in companies like Tata AIG life Insurance, Hutchison Telecom, Tupperware India and Hindustan Lever Limited (Unilever). He is a Chartered Accountant by profession.
11 June, 2014
Mobile Telecom Sector Urges the Government to Reconsider Budget Proposal & Elimination of SIM Tax


Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) of the country have urged the government to reconsider some of the budget proposals including Tk. 300 SIM tax, imposing Tk.100 SIM replacement tax, and high corporate tax for MNOs in order to continue the uninterrupted growth of the mobile telecommunication sector.

Telecom industry especially mobile phone industry is one of the major drivers of the economy in Bangladesh. Last year mobile industry contributed 3% of GDP growth. It is one of the largest employers, the largest contributors to the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as well as the biggest source of government's tax revenue in the country. The sector is also playing crucial role in realizing Government's vision of Digital Bangladesh. The sustainability and growth of this sector are very important for the overall development of the country.

The industry which is now providing lowest call tariff in the world is burdened with heavy tax. Mobile operators are paying about BDT 55 to government for every BDT 100 they earn. Now more taxation is proposed in the budget of 2014-15

It would be very challenging for MNOs to provide service at the current rate if the government does not consider MNOs concerns. This would compel MNOs to raise service charges as they can no longer continue to subsidize SIM tax on behalf of the subscribers.

MNOs have long been reiterating need for elimination of the existing Tk. 300 supplementary duties and VAT on SIM/RUIM cards. Tax on mobile connection is counterproductive as the tax on SIM connection increases the total cost of ownership of a mobile phone and effectively reduces total tax collection by the government exchequer

The proposed BDT 100 tax on SIM replacement is another hurdle placed in the way of the industry's growth. The customers are asked to pay when they are not getting any additional advantage nor does MNO get any commercial benefit. This would only make our cost of service to customers more expensive.

In the proposed budget, corporate tax for non-listed companies have been reduced to 35 percent from 37.5 percent but unfortunately it has been kept unchanged for the MNOs at 40 percent for publicly traded companies and 45 percent for non-listed companies.

This will discourage prospective companies in mobile telecom sector to be listed with the capital market through floating Initial Public Offering (IPO) to boost the country's capital market. It will also dampen the spirit of further foreign direct investment in this sector.

MNOs expressed their dissatisfaction as there was almost no incentive in favor of the mobile telecom sector in the proposed budget despite substantial contribution to the economic development of the country.

In spite of being one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world, mobile operators have been burdened with industry specific high taxes instead of a more congenial and industry friendly tax policy.

MNOs expect something positive from the current government as mobile is a significant enabler of the government's vision for a Digital Bangladesh. It would have been helpful for the government if it had exempted the SIM tax as the number of mobile users would increase and it could earn greater revenues.

At the same time, the proposed 15 percent VAT on mobile handset imports, on existing 10 percent customs duty, will effectively take the levy imposed on imported devices to 31.5%. With increased price mobile handsets will go out of the reach of the lower income groups in rural areas, which are the main target of the operators at present. This aging against the spirit of Digital Bangladesh and will hamper the growth of mobile penetration I the country. Moreover higher tax on legally imported handsets will only encourage the growth of illegal import of handsets and will result in further loss of tax revenue for the government.

Other demands of MNOs included reduction of VAT on Internet usage and exemption of VAT on Internet data Modem to supplement the government vision of Digital Bangladesh.

In a market where most of the operators are unable to make any profit it will be counterproductive to press this industry to contribute further when not much is being done to foster a sustainable and investment friendly business environment.
14 May, 2014
Industry Specific High Taxation Hampering Growth of Mobile Telecom Sector


Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) organized a press briefing on Mobile telecom industry's budget proposal at a local hotel on May 14, 2014 demanding an industry friendly taxation policy in the upcoming budget for the fiscal year 2014-15. From left Ahmad Y. Haleem, Chief Financial Officer of Banglalink Digital Communications Ltd., Faroque Ahmed, General Manager Finance & Accounts of Teletalk Bangladesh Ltd., Ashraful H. Chowdhury, Chief Regulatory Affairs Officer,f Airtel Bangladesh Ltd. T I M Nurul Kabir, Secretary General AMTOB, Mahtabuddin Ahmed, Chief Operating Officer of Robi Axiata Limited, Md. Mainur Rahman Bhuiyan, Acting CFO of Grameenphone Ltd. Nishat Ali Khan, DGM, Corporate Affairs, Pacific Telecom Bangladesh Ltd. seen in the picture.

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) of the country have urged the government to devise fiscal measures to accelerate further growth of the mobile telecommunication sector, which will ultimately enable MNOs and other related industries to contribute more to the government exchequer.This was revealed at a press briefing organized by the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) at a local hotel.

Despite being one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world, mobile operators have been burdened with industry specific taxes in the absence of an industry friendly tax policy.

Among the main demands to revitalize the sector was the elimination of the existing supplementary duties and VAT on SIM/RUIM cards. Tax on mobile connection is counterproductive since the cost impedes the pervasion of mobile technology to middle to low income people. The tax on SIM connection increases the total cost of ownership of a mobile phone and actually reduces total tax collection by the government.

At present, corporate tax rate for listed mobile operators company is 40% and for non-listed mobile operators company is 45%. Whereas, corporate tax rate for general listed companies are 27.5% and for non-listed general companies is 37.5%. It is evident that 45% corporate tax on Mobile Industry is the highest amongst the other industries and one of the big impediments in future investment decisions. This does not either encourage going for public listing to boost the capital market of the country.

The association argued for harmonization of customs duty on telecom equipment. Currently the customs authority arbitrarily segregate and re-classifying the integral and essential parts of the telecommunications equipment under various HS Codes, placing an additional tax burden on imports.

Other demands included reduction of corporate tax and elimination of turnover taxes; amortization of license fee, as well as VAT Exemption on Internet Modem and Mobile Financial Services (MFS).

Collectively Bangladesh's mobile telecom sector is the one of the largest employers, the largest contributors to the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as well as the biggest sources of government's tax revenue in the country, yet is under pressure to contribute further in the absence of a supportive business environment.
20 February, 2014
AMTOB Welcomes NID Access Decision for Subscribers Registration
DHAKA, February 20, 2014: Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have praised the government decision for providing access to the Election Commission's National ID (NID) database to verify the subscriber's information before activating new mobile phone connections.

The access to National ID (NID) data base would help MNOs to verify the subscriber's information in an efficient way for activating new connections. All concern regarding national security could be substantially eliminated and transparency could be maintained through the new verification process. AMTOB MNOs have been working closely with the BTRC committee of subscribers' registration process.

AMTOB, the single platform of all six mobile phone operators of the country, expressed gratitude to the government, Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology (MOPT & IT) and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) for taking such initiative via which the real identity of the subscribers of the new mobile connections could be determined.

AMTOB believes that the verification process has to be comprehensive and should not deprive genuine subscribers, therefore the process should be made through appropriate consultation with all stakeholders, so that it becomes convenient for the subscribers and mobile telephony can reach to all spheres of life, being a very important infrastructure for the country's GDP growth.

AMTOB hoped that the government would take initiative to provide further access to similar data bases in the future in order to facilitate MNOs to determine genuine subscribers much essential for protecting national security.
07 January, 2014
Chris Tobit is the New Chairman of AMTOB
DHAKA, January 07, 2014: Chris Tobit, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Bangladesh Limited has been appointed as the Chairman of AMTOB, Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh. AMTOB is the national trade body representing all six mobile network operators, namely - Airtel, Banglalink, Citycell, Grameenphone, Robi, and Teletalk. Michael Kuehner, CEO of Robi Axiata was the previous chairman of AMTOB before Chris Tobit took over in December, 2013.

Chris Tobit, the newly appointed AMTOB Chairman said "It gives me great pleasure to represent a telecom body that has strategically placed itself in the core of the Telecom Industry in Bangladesh. Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) has played a vital role in the growth of the country's mobile telecom sector and has been the voice of the industry. This will be great opportunity for the organization to continue to provide a platform for dialogue on important industry issues amongst all stakeholders and take initiatives to bring positive expansion in the telecom operations of the country."
31 December , 2014
AMTOB Sponsors BTRC Initiative to distribute 3G Handsets for Valiant Freedom Fighters
Dhaka, December 31, 2013:Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) today honored disabled freedom fighters and members of martyred freedom fighters by handing over 3G enabled mobile handsets through a function organized by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).

Four 3G license acquiring Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) -- Airtel, Banglalink, Grameenphone and Robi Axiata– sponsored a total of 325 mobile handsets with SIM cards.

The 3G enabled handsets were handed over to the disabled freedom fighters and members of martyred freedom fighters through a function at the National Museum Auditorium.

Minister for Posts and Telecommunications (MoPT) Rashed Khan Menon attended the function as the chief guest while Information Minister Hasanul Huq Inu,Minister for Shipping and Liberation War Affairs Shahjahan Khan and MD. AbubakarSiddique, Secretary of MoPT attended the function as special guests.

AMTOB Secretary General T I M Nurul Kabir in his welcome address said MNOs are proud to be a part of honoring national heroes by sponsoring the 3G enabled handsets to the disabled freedom fighters and members of martyred freedom fighters.

BTRC Vice-Chairman Md. Giashuddin Ahmed also spoke on the occasion. The function was presided over by BTRC Chairman Sunil Kanti Bose.
16 April, 2013
Lawmakers Stress for Amendment of Tax Structure for Mobile Operators
Dhaka, April 16, 2013: Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, MP, on Monday underscored the need for bringing reforms in existing telecommunications policy, tax and duty law.

"Because, telecommunication is one of the important sectors for the country's development and progress," the Minister said while addressing a launching ceremony of monthly newsletter and website of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB), national trade body representing all mobile telecom operators in the country.

Posts and Telecommunications Minister Advocate Sahara Khatun, MP and Mr. Inu formally inaugurated the AMTOB's monthly newsletter,-"Connexion"- and its website-"www.amtob.org.bd".

The ceremony was addressed among others by the Chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Sunil Kanti Bose, ICT Secretary Md. Nazrul Islam Khan, AMTOB Chairman and Robi CEO Michael Kuehner, AMTOB Vice Chairman and Airtel CEO Chris Tobit.

The objective of launching the monthly publication and website were to disseminate mobile telecom industry's activities and related facts and figures to the cross section of the people of the society.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Information Minister also stressed on modernizing the telecom-related laws and policies, especially the SIM tax structure to be 'modernized and industry-friendly'.

The telecom sector is facing some challenges relating to VAT and Taxes which are hindering the growth of the industry.

Welcoming the AMTOB's newsletter and website launching, MoPT Minister Sahara Khatun said that the initiative would accelerate the movement of digitizing the Bangladesh.

The BTRC Chairman said that he planned to make broadband internet services available to more 2.5 million people of the country within the next three years.

Talking about the BTRC's regulatory policy, Mr. Bose said that regulation in Bangladesh's telecom sector is different from that of the other sectors in the country. Acknowledging the contributions of the mobile telecom network operators, he said for every BDT 100 the government earns, BDT 10 is provided by the mobile operators.

Thanking the Information Minister, AMTOB Secretary General T I M Nurul Kabir, said, "The Information Minister has uttered the words and demands of the cell-phone operators. So, we believe that we all together can overcome those issues including tax and duty."

With its immense contributions, the telecommunication sector has now emerged as the change maker of Bangladesh, Kabir added.
21 March, 2013
AMTOB Message of Condolence for the sad demise of Hon'ble President Md. Zillur Rahman
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Mobile Telecom Industry a key stakeholder for economic development of the country

Dhaka, Feb 2, 2013: Posts and Telecommunications Minister Advocate Shahara Khatun, MP lauded the contributions of Mobile Telecom Operators for the socio-economic development of the country by generating huge direct/indirect employments and payment to the national exchequer.

The Minister was addressing an Installation Ceremony organized in honor of the newly elected Executive Council members of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) 2013 at a local hotel in the city.

Acknowledging the contribution of telecommunications sector as the largest tax payer, the MoPT minister said the mobile industry is one of the few private sectors with foreign direct investment, which heavily contributes to the country's economic development.

Describing various initiatives and successes of her government including launching of 3G technology by Teletalk, she said preparation is at the final stage to float 3G auction for other operators soon.

The government will take all decisions regarding the mobile industry after discussion with the operators to enhance the sector's services; said MoPT Secretary Md. Abubakar Siddique who attended the function as special guest.

"The government is enthusiastic about the cooperation between the two parties regarding decision to get best output from the sector," the Secretary added.

Md. Giashuddin Ahmed, Vice Chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), who attended the function as a special guest assured that all necessary support has been extended to the mobile operators and the commission is firm to continue doing so in the future.

Earlier, MichealKuehner, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Robi, took charge of the association as the new chairman from outgoing chairman Mehboob Chowdhury, CEO of Citycell.

AMTOB Chairman Michael Kuehner said mobile telecommunication sectors have been facing many challenges and the government can help to mitigate those considering the sector's contribution to the national exchequer.

He urged the government to waive SIM (Subscribers Identification Module) tax in order to increase mobile penetration as the poor and marginal population of the country has started to use this technology. He stressed for the need for a pro-industry 3G auction to make it attractive to the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).

AMTOB Secretary General T I M Nurul Kabir termed the country's telecommunications sector as the "change-maker of Bangladesh".

He mentioned in his presentation that 3 crore 80 lakh people of the country have been using Internet service provided by mobile operators. The sector has invested BDT 50,000 crore till May 2012.