Uniform rate for broadband internet

The telecom regulator yesterday set broadband internet rates across the value chain to implement a uniform rate for internet usage across the country.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has set prices for transmission, bandwidth and services used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) of the Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) and the International Internet Gateway (IIG) operators.

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ISPs welcomed the move, as setting the bulk purchase rates for bandwidth and transmission services will enable them to comply with the government-set broadband Internet rate.

Industry people say that rate fixing will drive digitization and encourage IT freelancers in suburban areas.

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

It is up to Tk 500 for 5 Mbps and Tk 800 for 10 Mbps for all users across the country.

However, ISPs did not comply, saying internet transmission costs and bandwidth were too high to guarantee margin.

Thus, they had demanded a reduction in transmission costs and wholesale bandwidth rate to meet the BTRC’s “one country one rate”.

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

For IIGs, the monthly rate is set at Tk 365 for 50-100 Mbps for Dhaka and Tk 399 for the other parts of the country.

The new rates came about after 37 stakeholder meetings over the past ten years.

The new rates will remain in force for five years from September, the committee said.

“This pricing is a big positive step that will bring dynamism to the telecom sector,” Post and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar said in a virtual ceremony yesterday.

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

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

“This makes it easier to offer internet services.”

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

He demanded that the state-owned NTTN operator Bangladesh Telecommunication Company Ltd adhere to the new rate.

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 participate in distance learning.

The number of broadband internet connections crossed the 1 crore mark for the first time in June, rising 18 percent year-on-year.

Before the pandemic, there were 57 lakh broadband users. It means that the number of connections has increased by 76 percent since February last year.

BTRC Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder chaired the inauguration.

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