Uniform tariff for broadband internet

The telecom regulator yesterday fixed the tariffs for broadband internet all through the value chain to implement a uniform rate for internet use across the country.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) set the prices for transmission, bandwidth and services availed by internet service providers (ISPs) from the Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) and the International Internet Gateway (IIG) operators.

ISPs welcomed the move as fixing the rates for the bulk purchase of bandwidth and transmission services will enable them to comply with the government-fixed rate for broadband internet.

Industry people say the fixation of tariffs will boost digitalisation and encourage IT freelancing in sub-urban areas.

In June, the BTRC fixed the prices of broadband internet for end-users at a maximum Tk 1,200 for 20 Mbps.

It is a maximum of Tk 500 for 5 Mbps and Tk 800 for 10 Mbps for all users across the country.

However, ISPs were not complying with the directive, saying the transmission costs of internet and bandwidth were too high for them to ensure a margin.

So, they had demanded a reduction in transmission fees and the rate of wholesale bandwidth to comply with the BTRC’s “one country one rate”.

As per the new rate, ISPs will pay Tk 13 to Tk 300 per Mbps to NTTN operators, depending on categories, down from Tk 30 to Tk 2,000 now.

For IIGs, the monthly tariff has been fixed at Tk 365 for 50-100 Mbps for Dhaka and Tk 399 for the other parts of the country.

The new rates came following 37 meetings with stakeholders over the last decade.

The new tariff rates will remain effective for five years from September, said the commission.

“This pricing is as a big positive step, which will bring dynamism to the telecom sector,” said Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar while inaugurating the tariff at a virtual ceremony yesterday.

“As a result, there will be no more problems in the implementation of the one country one rate for the internet service at the customer level.”

Aminul Hakim, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh, said the fixation of pricing for transmission services was a positive step.

“This will make it easier to provide internet services.”

Md Arif Al Islam, managing director of Summit Communications Ltd, a private NTTN operator, said the pricing would speed up the transmission service.

He demanded state-owned NTTN operator Bangladesh Telecommunication Company Ltd comply with the new tariff.

The move comes at a time when ISPs witnessed a surge in demand for broadband connections after the Covid-19 pandemic forced people to work from home and shop online and students to take part in remote learning.

The number of broadband internet connections surpassed the one-crore mark in June for the first time, with an 18 per cent increase year-on-year.

Before the pandemic, there were 57 lakh broadband users. It means that connections soared 76 per cent since February last year.

BTRC Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder presided over the inauguration.

Industry people say the fixation of tariffs will boost digitalisation and encourage IT freelancing in sub-urban areas.


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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