Telcos claw back momentum
The telecom industry has regained its growth momentum, as the number of new mobile connections has increased 18.16 percent year-on-year to 14.07 crore in September this year.
The number of internet connections also grew 18.49 percent to 7.92 crore during the period.
In the last 12 months, the country added 2.16 crore new SIMs and 1.24 crore internet connections, according to the monthly report of Bangladesh Telecommuni-cation Regulatory Commission published yesterday.
"The growth is a very positive sign for the sector and the mobile operators welcome it," said TIM Nurul Kabir, secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh.
The growth indicates that Bangladeshi people are actually embracing more and more digital technologies and a huge scope is there to achieve more growth, he said.
The sector's growth slowed down to a great extent when the mobile operators disconnected over one crore SIMs after conducting biometric verification in six months till July in 2016.
From October 2016 to September this year, the newly merged Robi added 95.99 lakh SIMs, the highest among all operators, according to BTRC data.
Market leader Grameenphone added 88.67 lakh SIMs, Banglalink 29.08 lakh and the state-owned Teletalk achieved 2.52 lakh, the lowest.
Grameenphone now has 6.38 crore subscribers, Robi 4.12 crore, Banglalink 3.24 crore and Teletalk 32.41 lakh.
A senior official of the telecom regulator said they have never seen this type of growth on mobile and internet connections in recent times.
The hype about the launch of 4G services might have boosted the growth, he said.
The mobile operators did a great job to connect more people, Kabir said. "The growth also resembles the economic development of the country."
He also urged the government to reduce VAT and other taxes on use of internet to help people use internet at cheaper rates.
On use of telecom services, people now pay 15 percent VAT along with 5 percent supplementary duty and 1 percent surcharge.
The spread of digital services is widening fast, and this is the time for the government to help the operators provide people with such services at cheaper rates, Kabir said.
Of the country's total internet connections, 93.17 percent are using mobile numbers to get internet services.
The country now has 53.21 lakh fixed internet connections and 90,000 Wimax connections, according to the BTRC report.