Bangladesh telecommunication operators lose over 4.5 mln users as COVID-19 bites

DHAKA, July 9 (Xinhua) — Mobile phone subscribers in Bangladesh declined to nearly 161.506 million at the end of May, down over 4.5 million from February, a report said on Thursday.
   Statistics of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) showed that the number of subscribers of the mobile operators — Grameenphone, Robi Axiata, Banglalink and Teletalk — at the end of May this year stood at 74.260 million, 48.032 million, 34.340 million and 4.873 million respectively.
   The BTRC data showed that the number of subscribers of the four operators in the country reached 166.114 million in February.
   Officials said the number of users have been falling almost since the beginning of March when the country reported first few cases of COVID-19.
   BTRC’s Senior Assistant Director Md. Zakir Hossain Khan told Xinhua that operators reported loss of millions of subscriptions from March to May as the virus spread in the country.
   He said the decline in cellphone users is not linked to the number of people who died after being infected with the virus.
   He attributed the continued decline in subscriber numbers over the past months to people with multiple phone numbers canceling some service during the outbreak.
   “The multiple SIM users were less interested to use more than one SIM as they migrated from city to rural areas,” he added.
   According to BTRC data, all the four operators have seen a massive dip in their active users during the months of massive COVID-19 outbreak which apparently made businesses sluggish to a large extent in the country.
   Since March 8, the virus has spread to nearly every Bangladeshi district and the number of cases rose to 175,494 with 2,238 deaths so far.
   The government declared a general holiday from March 26 and later extended the shutdown in phases till May 30 to quell the spread of the pandemic.  Enditem