A little bit of history, about people waiting for 27 years to get a phone before liberalization and what leased lines cost in the bad old days before SEA-ME-WE 4, was recounted. But most of the attention was on the future, on how Bangladesh could give its people the benefits of broadband through good regulation. One speaker said that the root of all evil was illegal call termination. Knowing what I know about the Bangladesh industry, I could agree. The entire convoluted structure of Bangladesh telecom regulation is anchored on safeguarding the massive revenue thought to be generated for the government from incoming and outgoing international calls.
It seemed like a launch and a coming out party combined. The launch was of Digital Bangladesh. The coming out was of Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed, the thinker behind Digital Bangladesh who also happens to be the grandson of Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and son of Shiekh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. It was a grand vision that was set out, one that would radically increase ICT literacy in Bangladesh, provide government services over e platforms and create service industry jobs for the wave of young people entering the job market. It was ironical that we had to listen to the speeches on digital Bangladesh phoneless, having been compelled to leave all electronics behind in the name of security.