June 24, 2009

Mobile Internet: The Hope for Digital Bangladesh

Kashif Choudhury -- According to research bodies, the internet penetration in Bangladesh is 0.3%. 5 lakh people out of 16 crore are connected to the internet. That is number 96 on the charts. The digital dream put forth by the government is to connect the entire country to the web within a decade. That's big talk followed by little action. For one, show me one significant thing that the government has done to move forward their 'vision' in the budget. A report stated that Bangladesh has one of the most expensive internet connections prices in Asia. Even though the government reduced the charges, a while ago, it didn't seem to trickle down to the amount the ISPs charge. The End User still has to pay a ludicrous amount for internet.

But, there is a shining light on the horizon. Internet penetration might be 0.3%, but mobile network penetration is about 34%. That might not be at the top of the list in the region,
but it’s very good in terms of where our country is in other areas. So, if mobile operators were to lower the charges for using mobile internet, all of a sudden you’re looking at about 20% penetration rate of the internet. CityCell already offers its zoom service for a reasonable fee and GrammenPhone and Warid also sell USB wireless receivers for a fee of about 4000 taka.

My point is that if mobile operators were to take the initiative to reduce internet costs, the number of people with access to the internet would skyrocket. Now, you can say that not every set has the capability to go online. But the Chinese sets that are available in the market offer all the features of a high end phone for a very low price. And nowadays even the most basic of sets (in the 6000 taka range) have internet capability.

For the government to realize the people's dream of digital Bangladesh, it should encourage mobile operators to reduce its tariff on internet usage. This way a whole lot of people will be connected to the internet, because after all how many people own computers and how many have cell phones? You get the idea.

NOTE: Now, some of you may not agree with some of the things in this article. As always, your opinions are always encouraged and welcome.


Hamidur said...


Can you provide source of the chart which mention Bangladesh to be number 96 in internet penetration?

Kashif said...

Sir, you can get an idea at


I don't remember the exact address right now. I'll let you know when I do.

Kashif said...

It seems that there was a slight discrepency in my information. Actually, Bangladesh is number 98 NOT number 96 as I stated in the article. Sorry for the mistake.

Hamidur said...

in that case,it should be number 98 not 96.

By reducing the price of bandwidth government can encourage mobile operators to go rural, it is true. In that way coverage can be ensured but I dont beleive it will affect much in terms of number of users. There is a difference between coverage penetration and users penetration. We can say that with average speed, almost all the primary target areas are already under coverage by mobile operators.

If broadband to go rural, first what we need is to teach people. When people are educated, they will know their requirements and number of users will increase accordingly.

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