Bangladeshis spend lowest on mobile phone in South Asia
Bangladeshis spend less on mobile phone use than any other people in South Asia, a new study reveals.
The study, conducted by LIRNEasia, a regional policy and regulation think tank, found that Bangladesh ranked No 1 in terms of affordability of cost by the low, medium and high mobile users in both prepaid and post paid, followed by Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.
LIRNEasia calculated OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) baskets in three levels using volume of calls and SMS per month. According to the study, a low prepaid user means a person who talks 68 minutes per month on an average and low post paid user means a 207-minute talking time per month.
In the case of medium users the study considers 175-minute and 535-minute talking time per month for prepaid and post paid customers. And high user means 378-minute talking time for prepaid and 1155- minute talking time for post-paid.
In purchasing parity (PPP) terms, reflecting affordability, Pakistan has been adjudged the most affordable, followed by Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India in the prepaid segment. In the Saarc region, Afghans spend the highest on mobile phone use.
Industry insiders said stiff competition among the six mobile phone operators has led to tariff reduction, resulting in reducing operator's average revenue per user to Tk146 a month, which is the main reason for the affordability in cost.
Among the eight South Asian countries, for the low user, essentially the poorer user, the average monthly cost of using a mobile in Bangladesh is as low as$2.46 per month in case of prepaid. In the case of low users in prepaid basket, Pakistan ($3.34), India ($3.72) and Sri Lanka ($3.83) followed Bangladesh.
Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives were brought under the study.
The study said average monthly-prepaid mobile cost for a medium user in Bangladesh is $5.86, whereas Pakistan's cost is $8.12, India's $8.93 and Sri Lanka's $9.41.
In the case of high user, Bangladesh also is the cheapest market. The study found that for high prepaid users average monthly expenditure is $12.31, followed by Pakistan's $16.92, India's $18.32 and Sri Lanka's $20.046. Afghanistan is on the top list in terms of cost that ranges from $8.33 for low user to $43.34 for higher user.
For postpaid users, the lowest-use basket is in Bangladesh ($7.14), followed by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Commenting on the study, country's leading telecom operator Grameenphone's Chief Executive Officer Anders Jensen said, “This shows that affordable prices are a prerequisite to growth and we can deliver growth beyond expectations in a competitive market”.
“However, to continue the growth we have to make it profitable, which means all cost elements including taxes must be rationalised,” he said.
“Now we are in a position to increase the penetration rate further from less than 25 percent as the tariffs have become much more affordable for a larger number of people. However, the operators must be in a position to make continued investments to increase capacity and introduce new technologies,” Jensen said.
Calculating in PPP, Bangladesh obtained the second position in monthly-prepaid basket at all users level. Average prepaid mobile cost for a low, medium and high user in Bangladesh is $11.66, $27.79 and $58.37 respectively. In Pakistan it is $10.57, $25.69 and $53.55 at the level of low, medium and high user.
In the case of post paid PPP, Bangladesh holds the lowest position at both the medium and high user level. But it has been adjudged the second ($33.83) at low user level, followed by Pakistan ($33.32).