Internet price cuts in the works: Tarana
The government is working to make internet cheaper at the consumer level, said Tarana Halim, state minister for telecom, yesterday.
"We are currently the third lowest in the world in terms of internet pricing at the end user level -- now we are trying to become the lowest country."
She also plans to request Finance Minister AMA Muhith to cut some of the taxes for internet in the next budget.
"In order to bring down the internet prices, a reduction in the government's revenue sources, including VAT and other taxes, from the sector will be proposed," Tarana said, adding that a letter will be sent to the finance minister on this matter in a day or two.
Currently, the end users have to pay 15 percent VAT, 5 percent supplementary duty and 1 percent surcharge on their internet usage.
Tarana is also exploring if a better revenue sharing model can be worked out for the mobile operators.
At present, mobile operators have to share 5.5 percent of their gross revenue with the telecom regulator. They also have to forward 1 percent of their gross revenue to the social obligation fund.
The telecom division will go for cuts on either the VAT and other taxes on internet usage or the mobile operators' revenue sharing percentage, she said.
"We are trying to get an outcome within the next six months."
The telecom and gateway operators were also asked to share their total costs for providing internet service to consumers within two days, she said.
The minister also asked the mobile operators to stop their current practice of offering data packages at discounted rates or free of charge to those who occasionally use the internet on their phones.
Rather, the regular mobile internet users should be rewarded with lower rates.
"Our main target is to reduce the cost of mobile internet usage as a huge number of users are accessing the internet through their handheld devices."
As of February, the country's total active internet connections stand at 12.96 crore. Of the number, 5.93 crore are mobile internet connections, according to a report of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.