Three private telecom operators started working in Bangladesh in 1997 while the stated-owned provider joined them in 2004. All the private operators are sharing consumers in the capital city while they have dominant presence in different regions of the country. Since Bangladesh is going through an era of demographic divide, with around 48 percent of its population being youths, many of the programmes and products are exclusively aimed at attracting youths.
Active since 1997, Grameenphone is the largest telecom operator in Bangladesh and the first to introduce GSM technology in the country. As of June 2018, it is the market leader with 69.17 million customers and the largest Internet service provider. It is the local subsidiary of the global telecom giant Telenor. Known for its best network, this operator is being used by a cross-section of people in three regions - Rajshahi, Rangpur and Barisal, apart from Dhaka. The majority of the consumers of this operator belong to the educated and richer section of society.
In the same year a company then called AKtel rolled out in the market. It was rebranded as Robi in 2010 and merged with the local subsidiary of Bharti Airtel in 2016 to become the second largest operator. As of June 2018, Robi has a customer base of 44.729 million. Robi Axiata Limited is a subsidiary company of the Asian telecom giant, Axiata Group Berhad, based in Malaysia. The access code for Robi is 18. Also used by a cross-section of people, Robi is gradually improving and expanding its service to Comilla, Noakhali and the Chittagong divisions, which also include the Chittagong Hill Tracts. This operator has absolute dominance in the Chittagong Hill Tracts for having a better network.
Banglalink, which was launched as Sheba Telecom, is the third largest operator. The company became Banglalink Digital Communications Ltd and was rebranded as Banglalink in 2005. The access code for Banglalink is 19. As of June 2018, it has a customer base of 33.282 million. The current parent company of Banglalink is Netherlands-based VEON. Offering a unique call rate, this operator has mixed users all over the country but is dominant in the Dhaka and Khulna regions.
Teletalk is the only state-owned GSM-based mobile phone operator in Bangladesh. It started operating in 2004 and has a customer base of 3.764 million as of June 2018. Unlike the private operators, Teletalk hardly offers anything new to attract consumers and has a poor service quality, thus remaining unpopular among citizens.
Private telecom operators conduct surveys on the population in different areas and launch new products or services accordingly. For example, Robi has programmes like Yolofest and Yolo Adda, concerts, lifestyle, voice and data packages for youth.