Bandwidth use doubles in 2016
The use of bandwidth in Bangladesh more than doubled year-on-year to 380 gigabits per second in 2016, driven by local contents and expansion of 3G services.
The number of internet users was 5.41 crore at the end of 2015, which rose to 6.68 crore in September 2016, according to data from Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission or BTRC.
The Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh said the bandwidth used at the end of 2016 was no less than 400gbps.
The use of bandwidth increased at a time when Bangladesh is experiencing a slow internet connection because of breakdowns in three Indian undersea cables.
On January 4, the connection of India's Tata Indicom Cable was the latest to go out of order, which provides around half of the internet bandwidth that comes from India to Bangladesh.
BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood is happy with the growth in the use of bandwidth.
It is a tremendous growth and still there are some opportunities left to give a boost to the market, he said.
In the near future, video will lead the data segment and the country is yet to hit that domain, Mahmood said.
However, the industry experts said the data growth is much lower than the expectation, as many people use the internet for non-productive purposes.
Per capita data consumption was 250kbps in Singapore in 2012, while it is only 3kbps for Bangladesh, said M Rokonuzzaman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at North South University in Dhaka.
Probably there is no satisfactory reason that people are using internet for, he said.
Most of the people use the internet for social networking and only few productive things are happening with it, he said.
The government and the telecom regulator should promote the benefits of internet to boost the use of bandwidth, he said.
In December 2016, state-owned Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company supplied around 130gbps bandwidth, which increased up to 180gbps as Bharti Airtel took 50gbps bandwidth for a month because of a disruption in the Indian company's connection.
In Bangladesh, other major players are Summit Communications Ltd that supplies around 100gbps, Fiber@Home around 80gbps and One Asia that provides around 40gbps.
There are also three international terrestrial cable companies who supply around 40gbps bandwidth to Bangladesh.
Half of the bandwidth used today is for voice connectivity, while 90 percent of the remaining bandwidth is spent on browsing social media sites, senior executives of mobile operators said.
The internet service providers are the leaders for the 90 percent of the remaining bandwidth.
"The growth is yet not up to the mark, although 3G was launched three years ago in Bangladesh," said Rokonuzzaman.
"The government needs to develop telecom infrastructure to help people create more income-generating opportunities by using the internet."
Rokonuzzaman was also critical of the mobile operators who massively promote the use of social media networks through the internet.