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Grameenphone, widely known as GP, is the leading telecommunications service provider in Bangladesh. With more than 40.33 million subscribers (as of January 2013), Grameenphone is the largest mobile phone operator in the country. It is a joint venture enterprise between Telenor and Grameen Telecom Corporation, a non-profit sister concern of the internationally acclaimed microfinance organization and community development bank Grameen Bank. Telenor, the largest telecommunications company in Norway, owns 55.8% shares of Grameenphone, Grameen Telecom owns 34.2% and the remaining 10% is publicly held.
Grameenphone was the first company to introduce GSM technology in Bangladesh. It also established the first 24-hour Call Center to support its subscribers. With the slogan Go Beyond, Grameenphone promises its customers to bring the best of communication technologies so that they can Go Beyond.
The idea of providing universal mobile phone access throughout Bangladesh, including its rural areas, was originally conceived by Iqbal Quadir, who is currently the founder and director of the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT. He was inspired by the Grameen Bank microcredit model and envisioned a business model where a cell phone can serve as a source of income. After leaving his job as an investment banker in the United States, Quadir traveled back to Bangladesh, after meeting and successfully raising money from New York based investor and philanthropist Joshua Mailman, and worked for three years gaining support from various organizations including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank and the Norwegian telephone company, Telenor. He was finally successful in forming a consortium with Telenor and Grameen Bank to establish Grameenphone. Quadir remained a shareholder of Grameenphone until 2004.
Grameenphone received a license for cellular phone operation in Bangladesh from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications on November 28, 1996. Grameenphone started operations on March 26, 1997, the Independence Day in Bangladesh.
Grameenphone originally offered a mobile-to-mobile connectivity (widely known as GP-GP connection), which created a lot of enthusiasm among the users. It became the first operator to reach the million subscriber milestone as well as ten million subscriber milestone in Bangladesh.