All is set for Symphony to start assembling mobile handsets in Bangladesh as the leading vendor has already set up the plant in Ashulia.
The commercial assembling will begin next month with a plan to put together mid-range handsets, said a top executive of the company.
“After we got the licence, we have completed all of our preparations. Now the assembling will begin next month,” said Md Maksudur Rahman, senior director of Symphony Mobile, a sister concern of Edison Group.
The plant has the capacity to assemble 500,000 devices every month and is planning to assemble mostly feature phones and a good number of 3G-enabled smartphones.
“Our initial target is to set the standard and then we will go for 4G-enabled and other high-tech devices,” said Rahman.
He spoke on the sidelines of a co-branded handset launching programme with Grameenphone at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel yesterday.
Symphony is putting in about Tk 100 crore for the venture in Ashulia, said a source of the company.
Edison Group completed establishing the plant in the first quarter of 2018 after receiving the licence from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. However, all the preparations related to official launching came to a halt after the government suddenly increased taxes of local assemblers.
Higher tax is a huge burden to the industry and preventing the market growth from accelerating, Rahman said, while addressing the programme.
For the first time, the mobile device industry posted a negative growth in the January-June period and this sent a negative signal, he added.
Rahman also shared the company's plan to export mobile handsets – a development that will make Bangladesh a device-exporting country.
Symphony, the market leader both in smartphone and feature phone segments in Bangladesh, also plans to set up its second assembly plant, which will be established in the Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City at Kaliakoir in Gazipur, the country's first hi-tech park.
It has signed an agreement with Summit Technopolis, a joint venture between local Summit Group and India's Infinity, the developers of the park. In 2017-18, the government took an initiative to inspire local firms to set up assembly plants to meet the demand of the fast-growing market.
Last year about 3.4 crore mobile handsets were imported through legal channels, of which 82 lakh were smartphones, according to the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association. In the first half of 2018, it stood at 1.55 crore units and 37.89 lakh units respectively.
Every year, the country spends more than Tk 10,000 crore for importing this huge volume of devices, said industry source.
So, once the local assembling starts full-fledged operations, a huge amount of foreign currencies will be saved, said industry people.
The BTRC also awarded licence to another local player Walton and global leader Samsung. Both companies are already assembling handsets.