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Bangladesh network launches 3G services

DHAKA (Reuters) - Grameenphone, majority owned by Norway's Telenor, on Sunday launched Bangladesh's first mobile 3G (third generation) network, aiming for national coverage by next April.

The dominant provider, which has 44 percent of the market and paid $210 million for 10 megahertz of 3G spectrum in September, pledged to do its best to make the service available at "affordable" prices.

There are some 107 mobile phone users among Bangladesh's population of over 160 million but it lacks internet services, with barely 36,000 subscribers by either mobile or fixed lines.

Grameenphone competes with Orascom Telecom's Banglalink, Robi, a joint venture between Malaysia's Axiata Group and Japan's NTT DoCoMo, and Airtel, majority owned by India's Bharti Airtel. Each of them paid $105 million for 5 megahertz of spectrum in an auction.

State-owned mobile operator Teletalk last year launched a 3G service on a test basis.

(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by David Cowell)

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