Bangladesh


The economist celebrates Bangladesh’s achievements, caused in part by Pakistan’s census showing that it has more people than earlier estimated, thus decreasing the per-capita GDP. When the new population numbers are applied to the indicators that contribute to the ITU’s 2016 ICT Development Index, it is likely that the current virtual tie between Bangladesh and Pakistan will change to a significant lead for Bangladesh. This is nonetheless a good moment to celebrate Bangladesh’s economic progress. Its annual growth has averaged more than 6% over the past ten years and has run above 7% over the past two. Industry accounts for 29% of its GDP.
For some time we have been pointing to the fact that , the Bay of Bengal is one of the least connected by cable despite being home to six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. Something is being done about it: a private company and the Bangladesh government’s undersea cable monopoly are entering into a joint venture to connect the landing point of SEA-ME-WE 4 in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, and the capital of the Rakhine State in Myanmar. The private entity will own 90 percent of the cable, presumably because BSCCL could not come up with more money. It is a good thing, and meshes with the UN ESCAP vision of a Asia Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) which is redundant and low cost. The cable will be 250 kilometres long and will connect Cox’s Bazar and Myanmar’s coastal city of Sittwe, said Monwar Hossain, managing director of BSCCL.
I always thought that composite indexes were unfair to India. However much India tried and whatever were its ICT achievements, they would all be diluted by the sheer number of Indians. The e Readiness Index that used to be published by the Economist Intelligence Unit used to be one exception. But then they stopped publishing it. Now the EIU is back with the new index and unsurprisingly, India does well in it too: 36th out of 75.
They can lay cable under the sea, but over land seems to be difficult. Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL) is going to inaugurate its second undersea cable connection from Turkey to Kuakata in the country today, but its back link connectivity from the landing station to the main land is yet to be established. Parvez M Ashraf, project director of the second submarine cable landing station, said they are ready to launch the cable — SEA-ME-WE 5 — as its construction is complete. Md Monwar Hossain, managing director of BSCCL, who is now in Turkey to attend the management meeting of the consortium, will send data traffic to Bangladesh through this cable and inaugurate it, said Ashraf. However, internet users in the country will not be able to enjoy connectivity just yet, as the backhaul from Kuakata to Dhaka is not yet ready, which will take at least a few more weeks.
Bangladesh badly needs a second submarine cable for steady supply of international telecoms connectivity. The second cable is also critical to efficiently serve the cross-border customers. That’s the strategic significance SEA-ME-WE 5, the sequel of SEA-ME-WE 4 submarine cable, for Bangladesh. The new cable has been timely ashore but plugging it to the country’s telecoms networks remains uncertain. Multiple state-owned telecoms outfits, historically inefficient and corrupt, hinder the domestic transmission works of SEA-ME-WE 5.
Investment is not like charity. One does not just give investment. If Tata is to invest in Bangladesh’s 2.4 percent market share Teletalk, it will have to have answers to the following questions: 1. Will it get a controlling interest in the company?
According to Twitter, some people are without Internet in Bangkok today. Today's Tot internet failure from flooding wouldn't have been if only it were a mesh rather than point to point as @samarajiva has advocated — Don (@smartbrain) January 10, 2017 India is also supposed to have experienced problems with the Tata Indicom Cable connecting Chennai and Singapore. But they had back up options, running traffic through Bangladesh. The report below indicates that this resulted in higher bandwidth use (good) and a discernible degradation of Internet service quality (bad) for Bangladesh users. This is possibly because Bangladesh still primarily depends on SEA-ME-WE 4 to connect to the outside.
Government dictates the rate of international calls being terminated in Bangladesh. And it is always way above the hyper-competitive international wholesale voice rate. The regulator also takes away 40 per cent of the gross international revenue. Both the elements have been strongly incentivizing illegal bypass. Moreover, the international gateway (IGW) operators have been allowed to form a cartel named International Gateway Operators Forum (IOF).
Bangladesh is emerging as an important player in regional connectivity. Recently it has connected Northeast India to faster lane of Internet through a 10 Gbps international link of its submarine cable systems. It has prompted the landlocked Bhutan to be in the cue. Currently a Bhutanese telecoms delegate is negotiating a 5 Gbps international internet bandwidth deal with their Bangladeshi counterpart. Terrestrial transit through India is critical for Bhutan to access the submarine cable facilities of Bangladesh, says a press report.
Bangladesh simultaneously exports and imports Internet bandwidth to and from India. Its geographic location and state of international connectivity have contributed to this interesting scenario. The first submarine cable (SEA-ME-WE4) was landed at Cox’s Bazar in 2005. This facility of Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company (BSCCL) has dramatically improved the country’s overall international connectivity. Yet, the industry remained nervous about outages due to maintenance or accidental snapping of SEA-ME-WE4.
The Bangladesh State Minister for ICT is among the many who have expressed their unhappiness about the release of stale data based on a large-sample representative survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, which shows impressive gains in mobile use and less than impressive Internet use. “All these data show that Bangladesh has developed as a country in the ICT and telecommunication sector,” said State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak. He, however, was not satisfied with the findings on internet connections at households. “Our calculation showed that internet penetration is now more than 34 percent, and it will be 100 percent by 2021.” Last year, 44 lakh smartphones were sold, and the number would double this year, he said.
We do not believe the ITU’s ICT Development Index is perfect, but we write about it every year. This year, the web interface has been jazzed up. But even more interesting is what has happened with Myanmar. In 2010, Myanmar ranked 150th in the world, and was second to last in the Asia Pacific. Bangladesh was just ahead at 148 and Pakistan was well ahead at 138.
When I first saw a tweet about the Daily Star report, I thought Telenor’s Bangladesh affiliate was following in the steps of its Myanmar counterpart and reporting daily data user percentages. This is something any operator can do based on the information contained in Call Detail Records (CDRs). But I was disapponted. It was based on a sample survey: The leading mobile phone operator studied some 1,510 school-going students aged 11-18 years between June and July last year, to understand the internet usage patterns and practices of the youth in Bangladesh. I do see the value of sample surveys for understanding the user behaviors of specific demographic segments.
Bangladesh has experienced temporary outage of Internet when the government blocked popular social media sites on November 18. It could not skip the watchful eyes of the man who can see the Internet. Here is the visual of Internet outage in Bangladesh.
Instagram facilitates photo/ video sharing and social networking. Instagram community consists of over 400 million and is one of the largest ad platforms in the world. Access to this ad platform provides access to Instagram user data. Based on this, we acquired Instagram user data on Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh. When comparing these four countries, Bangladesh has the highest Instagram users and Myanmar has the lowest.
Last week, Moinul Zaber and I were privileged to discuss the potential of mobile network big data with a group of senior government officials assembled by the Access to Information Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Planning Commission, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Bangladesh Computer Council, and the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission were among those represented. The audience was fully engaged and wanted to identify priorities and establish a coordinating committee. Now that awareness and interest exists, the next step is gaining access to the data. The slideset.