Mobile data usage rises 46pc on 4G
Data usage through mobile phones got momentum after the roll-out of 4G service in February, with the average consumption hitting the landmark of one gigabyte (1GB).
Last year, the average usage was about 700 megabyte (MB), said industry insiders. 1GB equals 1,024 MB.
In the third quarter of the year, the country's second largest operator Robi's 2.83 crore active mobile internet subscribers consumed 1,182 megabyte (MB) data on average.
Robi, which has 55 lakh regular 4G customers, saw its data usage shoot up 88 percent in a space of one year, according to the quarterly financial report of its parent company Axiata.
In the same period Grameenphone saw 52.40 percent year-on-year growth in data usage from its 3.63 crore active internet users, of which 50 lakh are using 4G.
Combining all kinds of data users, average usage reached 1,149MB at the end of September, according to its third quarter report.
For the first time after the launch of mobile internet in Bangladesh more than a decade ago, Grameenphone's average data consumption was lower than Robi's.
However, Banglalink, the country's third largest operator, was far behind: as of September its two crore internet subscribers are using 734MB data on average, according to its parent company's report.
Nowadays, lots of digital services are available on the mobile platform, which is boosting data consumption, said Shahed Alam, head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Robi.
"4G has definitely given the industry a boost to change the customers' data usage pattern."
Robi is now leading the market in the data segment as they have invested huge amounts in it after merging with Airtel. The operator has already covered all the districts with its 4G network.
The market will definitely grow further, but to harvest the maximum potential certain challenges need to be removed, Alam said.
The industry is facing huge challenges from fibre optic cable connectivity: there are frequent cuts, with about 3,000 cuts recorded in the past 11 months.
"This is the lifeline of data connectivity. And operators are prohibited from building this network."
If the situation continues, digitalisation will be halted and data consumption will not grow further.
Alam also pointed out the low smartphone penetration as another challenge: about 35 percent of the total mobile users use smartphones.
A recently published report of YouTube also showed video-sharing has drastically increased after the launch of 4G in Bangladesh.
As of October, viewership of the Google-owned video-sharing platform in Bangladesh has grown 64 percent year-on-year to 2.94 crore, according to Google's internal data report.