Bangladesh: ‘Broadband to one third of people by 2015’

Posted on December 1, 2008  /  12 Comments

The government hopes to provide internet facilities to 30 percent of the country’s population and community-based broadband to all villages by 2015, the chief adviser’s press secretary Syed Fahim Munaim said on Sunday.

The press aide was briefing reporters after a cabinet meeting which passed the “National Broadband Policy 2008”.

Munaim said the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, in consultation with stakeholders, had finalised the policy with 11 clauses and guidelines for broadband to flourish in the country.

“The guidelines reveal that 30 percent of the country’s population will be brought under the internet by 2015. All universities, medical colleges, technical universities, research bodies, all ministries, autonomous and non-governmental organisations will have access to the net,” he said.

The press secretary also said e-governance facilities would reach Upazila levels by 2012 and all villages by 2015.

Read the full story in here.


  1. From recent studies it has been found that only 0.3% of the total population in Bangladesh are Internet users (not even Broadband !!). So from 0.3 to 30, it looks a real uphill task. One might think that with the arrival of BWA license holders with WiMAX coverage the figure will dramatically change. But as long as infrasturcture with logistic support are not affordable to common users, such ambition is quite unrealistic. At the same time, majority of the peope has no idea of what internet is and how it will benefit them. It is better to educate people about internet and its necessity in their life.
    Government needs to stop counting and act properly.

  2. Hamidur,

    Thanks for your response. Is 0.3% Internet users or subscribers?

    Abu, Amar,

    Do you agree with Hamidur? Will the restriction on present mobile operators to offer mobile broadband affect the growth?

  3. I don’t agree with Hamidur Rashid’s numbers. According to Business Monitor International Ltd, Bangladesh has a Broadband penetration of .7% (which is still pretty low). They estimate over 2% penetration by 2015. If you read carefully the article states that, “30 percent of the country’s population will be brought under Broadband by 2015”. It didn’t say anything about the customer uptake rate. But with at least 2 WiMax provider coming by March 2009, Bangladesh will had 100% Broadband coverage before 2015. The 2015 penetration will be driven by how cheaply they can sell broadband to the people.

    Also if anyone has a copy of the “National Broadband Policy 2008″ then please do post it there. I sense from what I read, the policy aims to add the rural people (people who never heard about internet) through community based broadband centers operated by the NGO’s, much like the original Grameen – public call centers (using cell phones).

  4. what happen to our broadband capabilities on next several years? Are we ahead or lead the South Asia?

  5. @ Chanuka Wattegama

    There is really no restriction on present mobile operators to offer mobile broadband. The 3G HSPDA has been delayed to March 2009 due to the Financial crisis. When HSPDA and WiMax goes head to head the broadband rates will come down exponentially. currently the Telecom regulator is under pressure to auction the 3G licenses, so the WiMax doesn’t get too much of a quicker start. Another point, the Mobile operators have Fiber optic cable running all over Bangladesh and infrastructure for Broadband is therefore really good. And in addition they must share these in infrastructures to the WiMax providers (under new BTRC laws). WiMax operators Can roll out their service fairly quickly.

  6. Sorry for my long comment.

    The government, not BTRC, is empowered to enact policies. The regulator only follows and implements the policy guidelines, according to the telecoms law.

    Therefore, Mr. Syed Fahim Munaim’s statement “Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, in consultation with stakeholders, had finalised the policy with 11 clauses and guidelines for broadband to flourish in the country” lacks legal basis.

    Besides, neither BTRC nor the government has conducted any public consultation on the broadband policy. It is not clear if anything has been discussed with carefully selected irrelevant individuals behind the door, as BTRC did for International Long Distance Telecoms Services (ILDTS) Policy.

    This fundamentally flawed policy denies any international long distance license to the mobile operators and ISPs. It has rather created three layers of middleman (IGW, ICX and IIG) between the operators and international carriers.

    Therefore, the consumers are paying high price for internet bandwidth despite unrealistic price regulation coupled with hastily mandating shared transmission by BTRC.

    BTRC has been deliberately throttling the growth of broadband by halting the incumbent ISPs’ network expansion in 3.5 GHz.

    The regulator has been also hostile to more than 500 telecenters of Grameenphone across the country’s villages. These telecenters use GPRS and EDGE. Unlike the vanilla telecenters being run by the subsidized NGO funding, Grameenphone’s telecenters are commercially viable.

    Besides, millions of people access to internet through handsets and USB devices using GSM technology. Instead of migrating these millions of narrowband wireless users to broadband, BTRC has auctioned three WiMax licenses. The regulator is also pressing the state-owned BTCL (former BTTB) to swallow the fourth license.

    Two bidders have paid (each $31 million) license fees and third bidder has declined to inject such amount of cash for a piece of paper. The fourth bidder also said “No thanks.”

    Although BTRC publicly says of granting 3G licenses by March, no initiative of public consultation is visible as yet.

    Meanwhile, the regulator has persuaded the caretaker government to amend the telecoms law and incorporate the provision of Universal Service Fund (USF). Allegedly, the motivation is to punish the millions of mobile phone users at BOP with this new tax although they are already overburdened with activation tax. Ultimately the money from USF will be siphoned to keep the WiMax operators alive.

    Bangladesh doesn’t need to wait until 2015 for 30% broadband penetration. If the government behaves sensibly, the country can achieve that target by 2010. All it needs is political goodwill, which not the part-timers but only a political government can have.

    Honesty is the best policy. Let the government be honest while enacting the broadband policy.

    Again, I am very sorry for long comment.

  7. Taking the internet to 30% is not going to be an issue. GrameenPhone, Banglalink has already done that. New WiMAX operators will also do that since they have the opportunity to use existing infrastructure like towers and fiber backbone. Main challenge is teh price for the service and local content. The government need to enforce current infrastructure owners to reduce price of backbone and tower lease as well as take massive projects to introduce G2C services in bangla. Only useful services will be successful to the low income segment. In addition they should find a way to support local entrepreneurs to build and sell ITES over internet locally.

    What is the use of internet if the peoople fail to take any significant benefit out of it?

  8. @Shihab,

    Yes, you are correct. If it is just covering an area with 30% population, it is not a too difficult task. Prices have to come down with increasing volume. Then it will be largely a question of demand.

  9. Define “Broadband” first. Broadband and Internet are not synonymous. it is possible to have Internet without broadband, and also possible to have broadband without Internet access (although this is rare). from what i know Broadband is defined by International Telecommunication Union as communication line with a minimum 2mbps bandwidth (upload+download). As far as i know Bangladesh doesn’t have any significant broadband users and will remain this way for the near foreseeable future. The demand for broadband in Bangladesh might also be pretty low. only few large company offices use them in Dhaka.

    From now on guys lets call it “National Internet policy”.

    Maybe 50 years later Broadband internet and services might grow there, when the rest of the world would have moved to Wideband long before. Good luck

  10. “ITU defines Broadband is as communication line with a minimum 2mbps bandwidth” ?

    – you gota be kidding me, even here in the USA the FCC defines broadband as 768k download. Can you provide a link where ITU states that 2mbps down as broadband? That number is arbitrary by the way, and varies from nations to nations.

  11. ITU settled for 1.5-2 Mbps, but that was some time back.

    Till recently FCC believed anything above 200 kbps is ‘broadband’. Changed the stance in mid 2008. See

    As for countries India thinks it should be >256 kbps, but both Pakistan and Bangladesh seem to be happy with 128.

    Practically 256 kbps is not too bad, though a more advanced user might want at least 512 kpbs. Think this is the balance between the need and what practically possible. Most packages in South Asia that promise higher speeds actually offer somewhere around this. So why not be honest?

  12. Broadband standard should be not less than ITU standard. Now there is nothing wrong having slower line, but just don’t call them a broadband. because in order to develop broadband based services and new innovations, and future a solid lowest common denominator is necessary. Many countries have realized this , countries like japan, korea are reaping the benefit of it seriously. they practically have gigabit level connetion in their country. my friends in japan dont have much use of their hard drive any more, they just connect to different services through the internet.

    In many countries including India and Pakistan, broadband is fixed @ 128/256 just to have a quick “success” and political gain, not because of practicality. Bangladesh just entered that arena. Although casual and occasional users don’t need a broadband, this is not valid reason to bring the standard down. Even in developed regions like western europe, many poeple i know still dont use broadband internet (they are all subscribers of a broadband ISP but choose to have a slower ultra cheap line, their kids have broadband though :) ).

    i think ahmed gets my point :)