BTRC slashes bandwidth prices by 31pc

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BTRC slashes bandwidth prices by 31pc

Md Fazlur Rahman

The telecom regulator has reduced the monthly rental bandwidth price for leased internet access through submarine cable by one-third to spread the communication services among the masses.

The monthly rental bandwidth price for leased internet access through submarine cable will be a maximum of Tk 12,000 per Mbps, said Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) in a circular on Tuesday.

There are more than 80 lakh internet users in the country, which will soon cross the one-crore mark, keeping pace with the boom of mobile users, according to BTRC.

Internet services providers said the internet users should get 20 percent extra bandwidth due to a 31 percent decrease in bandwidth prices.

“But it is difficult to say now how much the end-users will be benefited, as our operation and other associated costs will remain the same,” said Rashed Amin Biddut, joint secretary general of Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh.

The association will sit today to discuss the issue, he said, adding that the benefit would not be so high for the internet users if they pass on the amount of money they are paying to the industry regulator to get connected with Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN).

“Each ISP is paying between Tk 12 lakh to Tk 25 lakh to be connected with underground network to operate services in the capital. We have no other way but to pass the costs onto the customers,” Biddut told The Daily Star.

This is the second time the present government has decreased the prices of bandwidth to spread uses of information and communication technology under its Digital Bangladesh vision. It brought down the prices to Tk 17,400 from Tk 28,000, soon after coming power in January 2009.

It was Tk 127,000 until 2006, before the caretaker government brought it down further. Industry people said the rate would be brought down to Tk 10,000 per Mbps.

Analysts say the prices should go down further if the government really wants to boost internet penetration.

“Mobile penetration in the country shot up because of its low-cost nature, and also the call charge is much lower. The same can be true for internet penetration,” said Bangladesh Computer Samity President Mustafa Jabber.

Jabber said the impact would be tremendous. “We had been fighting for long to bring bandwidth prices to this level. It’s a good step forward.”

He said the government should give up its mentality of making profit out of everything and cut bandwidth prices further. “The government buys each Mbps at Tk 6,000. They should make profit of maximum Tk 500. If they even give free bandwidth the return will be huge.”

Jabber said internet users using services of Wimax and mobile operators would be particularly benefited. “They hold the majority share of the growing market. It will spur more price war among operators, ultimately benefiting the customers.”

Mobile operators however said the fixing of the price from the regulator is a piecemeal solution and will not be beneficial for the market competition.

fazlur.rahman@thedailystar.net

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