June 21, 2009

Broadband Bangladesh: Highest Fees in Asia

Broadband charges in Bangladesh were the highest among 30 Asian countries last year, according to a report on investment competitiveness released last week. "Hidden costs and policy loopholes are eating up Bangladesh's FDI future," said the report by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).

JETRO's report was based on its 18th Survey of Investment-Related Cost Comparison conducted in January 2008. The organisation conducts regular comparative surveys among major Asian cities for Japanese investors. According to its 18th survey, which compared 32 cost-components in 30 countries, JETRO found the cost of investment in Bangladesh "is not getting cheaper."

Bangladesh did demonstrate herself as competitive in eight components, however, including lowest rates among all the countries surveyed with regards to monthly telephone charge and monthly gas charge. But it remained less competitive in most areas related to foreign investment, including container transportation, land price on industrial estates, Internet connection and monthly fees, telephone installation fee, mobile phone subscription fee and corporate income tax among others.

The report highlighted high internet fees among these. "Particularly, the Monthly Basic Payment for Broadband Internet Service in Bangladesh is continuously holding highest position among all the participating countries in this survey." Since the survey was done, BTTB reduced Internet tariff charges by up to 40 percent, while Internet service providers reduced the average Internet access charge for home users by 25 percent, said JETRO.

"[This] is significant but not sufficient for Bangladesh to be competitive. It is highly expected that authorities concerned would take further measures to reduce the cost of Internet service in coming days," it said.

JETRO is a non-profit organisation under Japan's Ministry of Economy Trade & Industry, working to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. It has 73 overseas offices including Bangladesh and 36 regional offices in Japan. Since its inception in Bangladesh in the year 1973, JETRO Dhaka has been supporting private sector development through various schemes.


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