Number of internet subscribers touches 6 million
DHAKA, Jan 7 (BSS) – The country’s internet subscribers jumped to six million from only six lakh in 2008 thanks to the present government’s drastic slashing of bandwidth charge and rapid expansion of the network by private regulators.
“Though the internet penetration in the country is now only three percent, the number of internet subscribers climbed to six million in the last two years from only six lakh in 2008,” said Naimuzzzaman Mukta, People Perspective Specialist of the UNDP- funded Access to Information (A2I) Programme under the Prime Minister’s Office.
He said a huge number of people have brought under the mobile internet broadband facilities as there are 66 million cellphone subscribers in the country. “The mobile phone companies are playing the key role in increasing the internet subscribers,” he said.
Besides broadband internet service providers, he said, there are two fast-growing Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) companies in the country.
The number of WiMax subscribers in the country is now about 80,000. Two WiMax service providers–Qubee and Banglalion—launched the broadband wireless internet service in the country in 2009.
Mukta said a large number of internet subscribers in the country have been brought under the optical fibre network as the state-owned Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd has expanded the network up to upazila level in line with the present government’s vision to build Digital Bangladesh by 2021.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Telecommunication Company Ltd (BTRC) has decided to further cut the bandwidth charge. “The price of internet bandwidth will be reduced to Taka 12,000 from existing Taka 18,000,” BTRC Chairman Maj Gen (retd) Zia Ahmed told a function in the city recently.
“The further slashing of internet bandwidth charge would help increase the number of internet subscribers,” Mukta said.
A recent study said that Bangladesh could have nearly 20 million internet subscribers by 2020. The study titled “Towards a Connected Bangladesh: Socio-economic Impact of Internet in Bangladesh Economy,” was released through a press conference last year.
According to the findings of the report, “with the appropriate initiatives and policy frameworks in place, analysis suggest 18.3 million internet subscribers in Bangladesh by 2020, equaling approximately 10 subscribers per 100 inhabitants.”
These figures translate to a household internet penetration level of 32 percent and business adoption of around 66 percent.
The internet study was conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on behalf of the Telenor Group, the majority shareholder of Bangladesh mobile phone operator Grameenphone. The BCG report was part of an in-depth research into the adoption rate of Internet and its impact in the emerging economies with special focus on Bangladesh, Thailand and Serbia.
According to a report published by the International Telecommunication Union, Bangladesh has the second lowest internet penetration in the region. “The government and regulators are playing a crucial role in creating awareness and opportunities to experience benefits of internet,” the report said.
It indicates the Bangladesh government’s policy directive to “ensure internet for all” highlights the importance of Internet at the policy level, adding that the ICT Policy 2009 has specific direction and guidelines reflecting most of the priorities of the ‘Digital Bangladesh’ agenda.
In terms of overall GDP contribution in 2020 for Bangladesh, the report states that internet is expected to contribute 2.6 percent of total GDP and suggests that a 10 percentage in internet penetration is correlated with a 1 percent increase in the annual rate of new business formation; calculating the creation of over 129 K jobs alone in Bangladesh by 2020.
The findings are very optimistic about the potential of the telecom industry of Bangladesh with its footprint in every aspect of Bangladesh’s socio-economic life.
The report concluded that due to limited coverage and poor quality of fixed lines in Bangladesh, it is likely that the majority of internet subscribers in Bangladesh will be using wireless technologies and that provided with the appropriate investments, over 90 percent of connections could be wireless in 2020.