Status of Information Technology in Bangladesh
SDNP Bangladesh Review
Date: November 2000


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Computerization

Though the first main frame computer came to Bangladesh in 1964, but usage of PC and its popularization actually begins very late. Very recently the government has withdrawn import duties from Computer and computer related peripherals and it is actually boost up the usage of computer for general purposes. Even, now the scopes of computerization and effective application are severely under utilized due to many governmental policies.

Due to withdrawal of taxes from computer prices of computer and computer related items dropped drastically and became affordable to general communities.

However, it has been revealed from recent survey that almost 90% of the computers are Dhaka based and there has to be some policy on decentralisation of these PCs to regions outside of Dhaka.

IT Education and personnel

There are very few standard institutes who are giving high quality IT education in Bangladesh, but their costs are so high that they are barely within reach of general peoples. Many private organizations have opened independent institutes, though highly dense in Dhaka, are running with lack of proper syllabus and lack of acceptable technical qualities.

Scopes are there to establish an IT institute with high quality services at reasonable fee to produce IT personnel for global market.

ISP Situation in Bangladesh

Situations have been improved lately due to the withdrawal of the imposition on VSAT by the government and at present there are about 45 Independent (private) ISP companies, including the government owned BTTB. Three of them are located in Sylhet, three in Chittagong and rest are in Dhaka.

Anyone can install a VSAT with a simple permission from BTTB. Cost of VSAT equipment are nearly USD 40,000 and annual monthly lease fee to the Internet provider costs around USD 24,000 with an additional mandatory annual fee of USD 3500 to BTTB. Legal framework now also permits ISPs to float Public share in the stock exchange.

In this aspect one should concentrate providing ISP service to small cities in Bangladesh, where they don't have any ISP services, while there is too much concentration of ISPs in Dhaka city alone and it is increasing competition.

There are possibilities of using locally designed long distant Micro Wave (using multiple wireless routers) and these links are now available in Bangladesh at very reasonable cost- for access to remote areas. Straight line of path (60Km range with 3mb access speed), each tower units cost approximately USD 2400.

The difficult part of establishing an ISP here is to accommodate digital telephone lines to start up an ISP business due to unavailability of enough Telephone lines- in required time or in certain geograhic areas and locations. Hence, remote wireless access may be a better solution for Bangladesh. A typical ISP may need a minimum of 30 independent (telephone) hunt lines to start up a business.

The highest peak time charge (Internet usage fees) now is about Taka 1.50 paisa (6:am to 6:PM) and the lowest - off peak time charges is around 00.20 Paisa (2: 00pm to 6:00am) depending on the ISP.

Grameen Cybernet (an ISP) has the largest number of subscriber base (about 6000) and the current bandwidth available now - what local ISP's are providing, ranges from 64kbs to 2mbs (BOL Online Ltd. and Proshikha are providing 2mbs access).

Due to the failure of the government the country could not able to obtain a link to the sub-marine cable and also due to negligence in government policies the country domain .bd is still not functioning properly.

Few local ISPs are:

  1. BDCOM Online Ltd., http://www.bdcom.com
  2. Aftab Net, http://www.aitlbd.net
  3. Agni Systems, http://www.agni.com
  4. BRAC BDMail Network, http://www.bdmail.net
  5. Access telecom Ltd., http://www.accesstel.net
  6. Trans-Net Systems Ltd., http://www.transbd.net
  7. Global Online Services, http://www.globalbd.net
  8. Drik, http://www.drik.net
  9. Proshika, http://www.bdonline.com
  10. BOL Online Ltd., http://www.bol-online.com
  11. ISN, http://www.bangla.net
  12. Grameen Cybernet, http://www.citechco.net
  13. Spectra, http://www.ssl-idt.net
  14. AB Network Ltd., abnetbd.com

Sustainable development Networking Programme (SDNP), a non-profit ISP is working in the field of providing digital connectivity to academics, national and international agencies and development partners. This project is financed by the UNDP and executed by the Bangladesh Institute of development Studies. Utilizing SDNP backbone, Internet services could easily be extended to the remotest regions of Bangladesh through its regional hubs and information centres.

 

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