While almost all businesses are struggling for the coronavirus pandemic in the country, data sales are growing by leaps and bounds.
That people are working from home and increasingly using the internet to buy daily essentials or meet recreational needs is a no-brainer.
But this has been quantified in the robust data revenue growth of the industry's number three carrier Banglalink in the second quarter of 2020.
Compared to the same period the previous year, the increase was by 30.3 per cent to Tk 290 crore.
In the case of data usage, the growth was 79.2 per cent year-on-year, reaching an average of 2,240 MB per user. It was supported by accelerated 4G penetration that resulted in a 3.3 per cent growth in data customers.
"The pandemic accelerated digitalisation in all sectors that increased the use of internet in the country," said Eric Aas, chief executive officer of the subsidiary of VEON, a Nasdaq and Euronext-listed connectivity provider headquartered in the Netherlands.
Banglalink has maintained a solid business momentum supported by impressive performance in the digital business segment despite the challenges emerging from the pandemic, he said at a virtual press conference yesterday.
The service provider's strengthening of the 4G network has brought it an Ookla Speedtest Award.
Speedtest Awards are an elite designation reserved for fixed and mobile providers in a market and represent real world network performance and the internet speeds and coverage provided to customers.
To win the award, Banglalink achieved a Speed Score of 15.09, with average speeds of 12.78 Mbps for download and 6.73 Mbps for upload.
The award was given for being the fastest mobile network in the country during the first quarter to the second quarter of the year, Banglalink said.
"This is the result of our technological advancements such as the expansion of 4G network and more spectrum per customer," Aas said.
The company's revenue fell 3.9 per cent to Tk 1,110 crore in the quarter compared to the same period the previous year.
This is because people used more internet and made fewer phone calls in the quarter and phone calls are a major source of revenue for all telecom companies, said Aas.
Banglalink's mobile service revenue plunged by 3.7 per cent to Tk 1,090 crore.
In line with what industries generally faced for the coronavirus outbreak, Banglalink experienced a decline in its customers base and total revenue during the quarter, the CEO clarified.
As part of increased focus on embracing digital services, Banglalink actively promoted the use of digital channels to facilitate top-ups, account management and the adoption of additional services.
As a result, the user base of the operator's self-care app increased by 58 per cent during the second quarter compared to the first quarter. Its video-streaming app Toffe saw a 62 per cent rise in user number.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation decreased marginally by 0.1 per cent to Tk 460 crore in the quarter mainly due to lower revenue and higher technology costs which were partially offset by lower operating expenses.
Aas highlighted some of the initiatives taken by Banglalink during the pandemic such as setting up of free coronavirus hotline numbers and launching of e-learning facilities through Tech It platform.
He welcomed the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission's initiative to implement significant market power guidelines in a positive step towards establishing a level-playing field in the industry.
Taimur Rahman, chief corporate and regulatory affairs officer, Cem Velipasaoglu, chief financial officer and Mohammad Zubayed Ul Islam, director for sales and distribution, were present during the briefing.