Country's experts have attributed slow growth in Internet to dubious role of middlemen and unrealistic policies of telecommunication regulator Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
Independent ICT experts said, the government should formulate a proper plan to develop the sector considering its overall importance to the economy and the lives of the people.
Diversified use of the technology for development of business, education, communication, health and other activities has significantly ushered in a new era for the world, but surprisingly, Bangladesh is yet to undertake well-thought-out plans to adopt the technology, they said.
At present, two Wimax companies, some fixed broadband internet service providers and six mobile phone operators are offering data service. Nearly 30 million people have access to Internet communication. Of them, over 95 per cent is using mobile internet, BTRC sources said.
"Unholy practices of the middlemen and absence of proper policy now discourage the operators to extend their services rapidly," said Abu Saeed Khan, former secretary general of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB).
Country`s internet growth is not as satisfactory as voice call despite lowering of bandwidth price to Tk 8,000 from Tk 1,27, 000. Currently, the country uses only 26 GB Internet out of 86 GB capacity, according to the Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL).
Khan identified some problems that have prevented the operators from minimising price at user level and sad, the mobile phone operators have to pay extra to the middlemen such as two companies under Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) despite having their own telecom infrastructure.
He said:" The telecom regulator`s decision to provide NTTN licence is not realistic because mobile phone operators already have such infrastructure and it would be easier by them to expand the network across the country".
He said, the bandwidth price is still high in Bangladesh compared to other South Asian countries. Internet price for 1 MBPS is US$100 in Bangladesh while median price is US$ 25 in Jakarta, US$ 31in Kuala Lumpur, US$ 38 in Mumbai and US$ 60 in Manila.
Former president of Bangladesh Computer Samity (BCS) Mostafa Jabbar echoed almost the same views and said "There is no reason for having middlemen between the regulator and the service providers".
He said, the price of bandwidth should have been kept very low to develop the sector because the government has no cost for bandwidth barring only maintenance cost.
However, the veteran ICT specialist said the government should create competitive environment for developing the sector and reduce prices like those of mobile calls.
He said, now operators offer lowest call rate despite the fact that they buy spectrum at the highest price.
He, however, hoped that the sector would expand more after launching of 3G service as the people will get faster data.
The launching of International Terrestrial Cable (ITC) operations as the backup support along with lone submarine cable will give impetus to the businesses relevant to Information and Communication Technology (ICT).