Posted by: Duncan Chowdhury | October 26, 2009

Bangladesh Ranks Low In South Asia Mobile Use

A report in the newspaper today attracted my attention. Bangladesh lags behind all the countries of South Asia in Mobile Penetration Rate.

This is a matter of pity for Bangladesh that we lag behind Afghanistan also in this respect. The MPR of Afghanistan is 29 percent while Bangladesh is 28 percent. How could it be possible for a war ravaged country.

Maldives leads this region with 143 active SIMs/ 100 people as the undisputed leader in mobile connectivity in South Asia, while Sri Lanka secured the second position with 52 active SIMs per 100 people.

Pakistan is 50 SIMs per 100 and Bhutan is 37 SIMs per 100 people. India is lagging behind which is 29 per 100 people, same as Afghanistan.

This scenario indicates that Bangladesh yet has a good space for the expansion of the cell phone industry. In order to enhance the market, the mobile operators needs to reduce the tariff more so that it could reach to more people especially at the grass root level and on the other side the Government needs to reduce the tax on each SIM connection also, currently it is Taka 800, which is one of the hindrances for the expansion of the mobile industry in Bangladesh.

Though the mobile operators had reduced their rate substantially still there is lot to be done. The interconnectivity rate between the mobile operators needs to be reduced. The first cell phone company used to charge Taka 10 per minute for outgoing and Taka 7 per minute for incoming and the connection fee was more than hundred thousand Taka. I was not a subscriber until 1997/1998 when grameenphone was launched. I still remember I had to pay Taka 24,000 for the connection fee including a mobile set costing Taka 6,000. In those days the outgoing rate was Taka 5 per minute and Taka 3 per minute for incoming. Now the provision of incoming rate has been waived by all the operators and the outgoing charge has come down to less a Taka per minute in some schemes. This is of course a radical reduction in the rate. Cell sets are also cheaper today, you can buy good quality sets within Taka 1,200/- also. Thanks to the China Manufacturers.

The concern of the mobile phone industry here is the foreign investment in this sector, the huge profits in this sector are siphoned away abroad. This needs a better scrutiny.

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