An international report revealed that only 18 per cent people of the country use the internet, much below the government’s estimate.
A report of Switzerland-based International Telecommunication Union titled ‘achieving universal and affordable internet in the least developed countries’ stated the number.
ITU, a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for issues concerning information and communication technologies, prepared the report on data from itself and from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
The report mentioned the figure portraying access, affordability and skills by the LDCs in attaining targets of sustainable development goals and internet uptake.
In stark contrast to the ITU figure is the latest government data that claimed that more than 50 per cent of the country’s people use the internet including internet use through mobile phone and fixed broadband.
A Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission data titled ‘internet subscribers in Bangladesh in December’ showed that the total number of internet subscribers has reached 8.04 crore.
From this, 7.50 crore use mobile internet and remaining 0.54 crore people use internet through WiMAX, fixed broadband and PSTN services.
When asked about the difference between the ITU and Bangladesh government information, posts, telecommunications and information technology minister Mustafa Zabbar told New Age, ‘It may have happened due to the difference in criterion between ITU and Bangladesh in determining the internet users.’
They might have calculated the internet users who use internet constantly, he said, adding that, in Bangladesh we determine a person as internet user when he or she subscribes to any internet package.
It’s not mandatory to use internet constantly to
become an internet user, Zabbar said.
Besides, he also said that the increase in internet bandwidth consumption in Bangladesh tells a story of progress.
Internet bandwidth consumption by Bangladesh increased to 550 gigabyte per second (Gbps) that was only 8 Gbps in 2008, Zabbar said.
The telecom minister also said, ‘The criterion which is suitable for Europe or America may not be suitable of us.’
The data from the ITU also showed that Bangladesh has become 18th among the 47 least developed countries with its internet subscribers.
Tuvalu topped the chart among the LDCs by ensuring internet for 46 per cent of its population, while Bhutan, Sudan, Cambodia, Zambia and Senegal followed the chart.
The report also showed that 500 megabyte internet data was available at a cost of 2.3 per cent of gross national income per capita, making Bangladesh the seventh cheapest country among the LDCs to offer internet.
The mobile phone operators, however, offer second highest number of plans, 21 packages, among the LDCs for internet data below 500 MB, baffling the country’s internet users.
ITU currently has a membership of 193 countries and 800 private-sector entities and academic institutions.
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