LIRNEasia’s ‘Rapid Response Program’ is exactly what the name suggests. We react to immediate information needs of telecom regulators, at short notice. The response might not be lengthy and as comprehensive as we would like it to be, but nevertheless helpful, as Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) have realised.
LIRNEasia saw BTRC’s move to issue three new Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licenses a positive development, as Bangladesh is certainly not a country that can boast of quality and affordable broadband.
This is what we learnt from our research:
Exceptionally high cost of broadband remains a key barrier that prevents the development of the BPO industry in Bangladesh. This is apparent when the prices are compared with similar packages offered by the operators in neighbouring countries. The annual cost of the basic office broadband package offered by Grameen Cybernet Ltd is USD 8,016. This is more than thirty times when compared with the equivalent in India (and 67 times that of EU average). These prices indicate a serious mismatch between demand and supply. So opening the market for broadband services is commendable, but the true impact will be felt only if this results in significant drop in prices.
We are glad to find our trademark in multiple places in the RFP document, specifically in following imrpovements (from the earlier one):
1. Operators should now guarantee QoS not just in last mile, but at least till the first foreign entry point, by purchasing adequate international bandwidth. (Earlier the focus was only on last mile.)
2. Contention ratios and download/upload speed ratios are defined, ensuring capacity increase parallel to the number of subscribers
3. Connectivity need not be confined to WiMax (except in Dhaka and Chittagong Metropolitan area). Operators have the flexibility in using other media (eg Fiber or Copper wires) in conjunction
4. Operators have to ensure QoS as per BTRC guidelines. There will be regular monitoring. (Glad to learn that BTRC will an eye on broadband QoSE! Not many regulators have!)
5. Operators now have a better understanding on backbone/backhaul design. The system can be point-to-multipoint or mesh radio systems consisting of BWA distribution hub stations and their associated subscriber stations (or BWA access devices).
Our complete response is here.
With this, is it too much to expect the same reaction from Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Sri Lanka too for our response on the ‘Planning and Implementation of a National Backbone Network (NBN)’?