Cheap internet service beacons for Bangladesh rural people
The government has taken an initiative to provide internet bandwidth at upazila levels at low cost.
Currently, internet price is much higher in the semi-urban areas compared to that in the capital due to transmission costs.
The telecom regulator has awarded around 4,000 kilometres of optical fibre cable to two companies to expand countrywide broadband connectivity and telecom services.
The companies will offer connectivity to 96,850 government offices, hospitals, colleges, schools, madrasas in districts and upazilas at a low cost by the next three years.
The goal is to provide internet bandwidth to every corner of the country at the same cost customers enjoy in Dhaka, said Sunil Kanti Bose, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, the regulator.
The companies — Fiber@Home and Summit Communications — will get the optical fibre cable for the next 15 years on lease from Power Grid Company of Bangladesh, which has huge unused cables.
The two companies got National Telecommunication Transmission Network licences during the last caretaker government’s regime.
The firms will also act as network service providers and use the cable after installing their own equipment and paying the Power Grid at a set rate, Bose said.
The Power Grid developed the network to run its own software through its countrywide overhead electric lines.
Fiber@Home will roll out its network in the districts and upazilas of Chittagong, Barisal, Rangpur and Rajshahi divisions.
Summit Communications will provide the optical fibre cable capacity to Dhaka, Khulna and Sylhet divisions and the greater Mymensingh district.
They will also make connectivity available for telecom operators and internet service providers on a commercial basis, said Moynul Haque Siddique, managing director of Fiber@Home.
“We will provide at least 1 megabyte per second (Mbps) connectivity to the institutions for Tk 3,000 to Tk 3,500 in partnership with the internet service providers in the semi-urban areas.”
“To provide the service, we will have to develop an additional 6,000 to 7,000 kilometres of network to reach the upazila level institutions and offices. So there is a huge investment left for us,” said Siddique.
They have urged the government to give support such as space to set up offices, and electricity, he said.
However, the agreements between the Power Grid Company and the two licensees are yet to be done, said Arif Al Islam, chief executive of Summit Communications.
He said, “We will have to engage a huge investment and manpower to roll out the plan.”
The government has imposed almost 35 percent tax on import of optical fibre cables, which is a big barrier to the government’s goal, he added.
The two companies have developed some optical fibre cable transmission lines and have leased their network basically from the network developed by the mobile operators.
Earlier, the mobile operators used to rent their transmission lines directly to the internet service providers, but recently the regulator asked them not to do that.