Cover Story

Telecommunication Dynasty made at home

Shovon Islam of Sparrow Group, Mahreen Nasir of Mir Tel and Shams Mahmud of Shasha Denims on the cover of Colors December 2020 issue. Photo: Kazi Mukul.

Brought up in a business family and being the only sister in the business family, Mahreen Nasir had an unconventional exposure to life. Growing up with sports and business, she never followed the socially allocated playing with doll notion. Never settling for the monotone revision and remembering information, made her dissociated with studies.

However, she had the knack to analyze and calculate information quick. Analysis of information came naturally to her. Therefore, engineering became her field to thrive in. “It may be unorthodox but it is something that I found very easy. I never thought studies could be this easy. I never liked those set notions. I like doing things that I find fun and easy. That’s what translates to success – doping something that makes you happy.”

The oligopolistic structure of the telecommunications industry means, there are significant barriers to entry and exit, sunk costs that you will never get back and various other barriers. One will see GP, Robi/Airtel, Banglalink, etc. dominating the communication business. In 2008, Mir Tel received its license to be one of the first local international gateway (IGW) operator. The work of the IGW is to funnel all international calls through a local licensed gateway and then distribute to the respective local operators. All these technological aspects and how to establish a homegrown system in Bangladesh came from Mahreen Nasir’s desire to improve the telecommunication quality in Bangladesh.

Previously working with telecommunication giants across North America, she developed the required skillset on how the entire setup of telecommunications should be. It came purely out of the dissatisfaction at the actual technological gap between the West and the East, and she wanted to build upon the technology the East underutilized.

Mahreen Nasir: Keen to innovate and appropriate the latest technology

Technology, Infrastructure and longevity

Technology is a paradoxical aspect of life. What it is today, may not exist tomorrow. Previously computers used to occupy large rooms and buildings, and now they occupy common small pockets. Previously one kilobyte of data required large floppy discs, now four terabytes of data occupy compact external hard drives. This is just a drop in the technological innovation that happens on a daily basis. The telecommunication is no different.

“We used to be the relay system for all the international calls that used to enter our gateway. We still are with the development of various online mediums like WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, Google Meets, and Zoom. Online mediums are inexpensive as long as you have a fast internet connection. This closed a few doors in one aspect but opened up new ones. We switched to providing data-based solutions and online services,” said MahreenNasir. For her, the entire setup became a cakewalk. Having foresight regarding technology is essential to survive in the industry.

This foresight has allowed Mir Tel to survive and grow in the industry. Mir Tel has expanded and established internet connectivity for companies, data centres ColoAsia, cloud-based solution, and other data services. All these allowed laying the foundations, for now, common cloud-based services like AWS, Azure, and Dropbox. Mir Tel had initiated these plans, as they foresaw that data will become the driving force of the world.

MahreenNasir and her team have been preparing for the technological change even before they got assimilated into our society, the way it did suddenly. “I wanted to do something for the nation. Having the first commercial Tier 3 Data Center with world-class facilities, puts us in the right direction. Expanding to IIG, ISP, IPTSP, ICX and others, we have been treading into various waters.”

All these help to improve the IT infrastructure for businesses both publicly and privately owned cloud services. These enable businesses to both protect their digital footprint and be technologically capable of handling large volumes of data. Businesses will exist in the digital ecosystem, and ensuring their data and their IT infrastructure is up to date.

Mahreen Nasir handles issues gracefully

Legacy of the Mir Empire and the Future

Mahreen Nasir and Mir Tel are an extension of the well-known Mir Group. “My father is my idol. He consistently keeps up-to-date with modern technology; to remain the business role model everyone identifies him as. Having parents who treat their kids with equality and provide all kids with fair opportunities is a blessing. My parents gave me that freedom to be the individual I am.” For an individual that was raised in the business ecosystem, Mahreen Nasir is humble to recognize her opportunities, and how many are usually deterred from the chances she received. The very motive also drives her to give back to the community to the best of her abilities.

The future of technology involves simply two aspects, for now, Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT). Mir Tel recognizes the opportunities that their foresight about data has opened up. ColoAsia is a microcosm of what the future holds for the technological innovator that is Mahreen Nasir and Mir Tel. Over time, as data becomes the central focus for all businesses, management of data and IT infrastructure would become the vehicle for development. “Keeping one’s data in one’s country is the motto that we will follow. As data privacy and data protection becomes more complex, and the concepts of all devices being connected to one’s mobile, data collection maintenance will be common. And to ensure that the cost of maintenance does not go out of the budget of institutions, Mir Tel will be present to provide all the solutions needed.” 

Technological innovation is something that is ever dynamic and dynamic personalities need to lead by doing out of the box actions. Telecommunications may be a farfetched concept for most, and the perception of the quality of IT infrastructure in Bangladesh being weak may be common. Mir Tel and Mahreen Nasir work towards being the exception and the ambitious ones to make the step into being a global data maintaining hub. As the future looks to Big Data and IoT, Mir Tel already plans for Big Data, IoT and anything else that may light up the future in the tech world.

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