Broadband in Bangladesh: Should we remain pessimistic?

Posted on December 4, 2008  /  5 Comments

Surprises me, the skepticism of some Bangla friends here about their own broadband potential. The rest of the world seems to think otherwise. In the maps above the country sizes indicate their Internet penetration. Bigger the country more widespread is the net. (Found them sometime back in Cyber Geography, but cannot locate the source anymore.)

Of course, predicted 2015 figures might be based on many assumptions, which may or may not be valid in long term. Still, don’t we see the bottom-line? If these maps were to be believed Bangladesh will certainly be a market leader in 2015. Are we sure to have adequate reasons to question that?

Agreed, none of the South Asian countries, including India, has reached a level to boast about broadband penetration. We might still be in sub 1% range. It is also largely an urban phenomenon with majority of the users ranting about the quality.

The question: Should it remain so always? Don’t we know most current broadband giants reached that level almost overnight? Will not the new telecom reforms bring some hopes to Bangladesh? Is 30% coverage by 2015 a pipe dream?

You tell me!


  1. I don’t know why the Govt used “30% coverage by 2015” as the benchmark. This figure will become outdated within few year and we wouldn’t definitely need 2015 to reach it. 100% Broadband coverage can be reached very easily (way before 2015) with 3G>>>HSPDA, WiMax, and coupled with higher end fiber to homes (urban). With that optimistic statement being said, I doubt the people will adopt broadband like they did with mobile uptake. Maybe some of you guys can tell me the Broadband penetration when a society goes from no internet to Broadband without experiencing (going through) Dial-up internet.

  2. At least one country I know, Indonesia, is taking a quantum leap to mobile broadband from dial-up without fully going through the fixed broadband cycle. Perhaps Bangladesh can be next.

    Interestingly both these countries have high hopes for fixed wireless broadband, but it is possible that in both cases 3G will take off in big way sooner without leaving any opportunities for BWA.

  3. What I have seen is that lirneasia sees only the negative side of everything, not the positive side.

  4. @Meghan,

    Not necessarily in this case. Current trends (introduction of BWA, drops in broadband/leased line prices, demand for quality etc) indicate a possible Broadband revolution in Bangladesh in the next 2-3 years though we have no idea it would reach 30% by 2015.

    The question is not IF, but HOW it will happen.

  5. I agree with Mr Amar. I have no doubt in mind that almost 100% Broadband coverage will be available in Bangladesh within 2/3 years. But the question is that will it be available to common public or not. I think we can’t compare mobile phone to broadband. Here in Bangladesh, mobile phone and call rates are quite cheaper. There are so many people who can afford those costs even if they are relatively poor or illeterate.At the same time, mobile phone has become an essential accessory for common people.

    But I dont think majority of those people have the luxury to use Broadband. All the accessories require (PC, Broadband modem, Bandwidth rates) are out of reach to many of them. And again how can you motivate poor villagers to use broadband as most of them are illeterate? They dont know what internet is and how will it affect their life.

    I have strong feelings that WiMAX coverage will benefit the data communication industry more than Broadband. There are so many banks who are planning to establish online banking(many of them already started) to all their branches all over Bangladesh. NGO’s also require data connectitivity between their offices. Ideas like video conferencing, video surveillance, telemedicine, Online university etc will also be boosted by the technology.

    But if we are talking Broadband, We need a plan and we need it now to make people ready. If we don’t do this, we may have 100% broadband coverage in future but with very few users.