Internet users rise in July
The number of internet users in Bangladesh rose in July on the back of a spike in mobile data consumption as operators try to expand their network and improve the quality of 4G service.
There were about 14 lakh new data subscribers in the month compared to June, taking the total number of internet users to 12.76 crore, data from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) showed. The gain in July stood at 3.8 per cent year-on-year.
Mustafa Jabbar, telecom minister, credited the introduction of broadband internet at a flat rate across the country and the release of a chunk of spectrum for taking internet to more people.
"This year, we have allocated the biggest amount of spectrum. Better mobile internet service will ensue soon as operators are starting to deploy the spectrum," he said.
In March, the country's four mobile phone operators bought 190 megahertz of spectrum for $1.23 billion, or Tk 10,645 crore.
Once the operators add the additional spectrum to their network, the suffering for the customers in the form of slower internet speed and subpar voice services would lessen to a large extent.
Operators say they are deploying thousands of 4G base transceiver stations central to better internet pace.
All of the new 14 lakh subscribers came in the mobile internet segment, raising the number of people who access internet on their handheld devices to 11.64 crore in July from 11.50 crore a month earlier.
Mobile data users were up by about 2.5 per cent in July compared to the same month a year earlier.
The number of broadband internet users remained unchanged at 1.11 crore in July versus June but it was up 11 per cent from a year ago.
"The growth we have witnessed during the pandemic has stalled in recent months," said Aminul Hakim, managing director of Amber IT, an internet service provider.
The number of broadband users has increased dramatically since the outbreak of Covid-19 as people had to rely heavily on internet to communicate, work, and study. In Bangladesh, broadband users more than doubled since February 2020.
Bandwidth consumption witnessed a remarkable spike during the coronavirus pandemic: 3,850 Gbps was used in June, up from 1,000 Gbps before the health crisis erupted, according to the BTRC.
Although the number of internet subscribers has sprinted to 12.75 crore, representing two-thirds of the country's population, the number of unique internet user is much lower.
This is because there are many people who use internet from multiple SIMs. If one person uses two SIMs, he or she would be counted as two subscribers.
As per BTRC definition, internet subscriber means subscribers or subscriptions who have accessed internet at least once in the preceding 90 days.
According to the new population census, 6.5 crore people, aged 18 or above, don't use internet.