Almost all the people are in home quarantine for the outbreak of Covid-19. Amid this situation, usual activities like office work, financial transaction, shopping, business, education and other activities are being conducted based on telecommunication and internet-based online services.
Prioritising them as "emergency services", the government has asked to perform all the activities through online.
Unfortunately, around 50 percent citizens of the country are deprived of this online facility, according to a press statement issued on Monday by Bangladesh Mobile Phone Consumer Association (BMPCA).
Mohiuddin Ahmed, president of the association, said in the statement that the prime minister said schools and colleges will remain shut till September if the situation does not improve. The government and experts recommend students to continue study through online.
How is it possible that all the students will have online facility whereas the majority of the citizens are deprived of the online services? He asked.
To support the 17 crore people, the telecommunication and internet system, in line with the consumers, lacks the capacity, he said in the statement.
"In the country, 16 crore SIM cards are active. About nine crore people use internet while 7.25 crore people use the mobile phone internet. The rest use internet from broadband service providers," he said.
The majority of the citizens do not have smartphones. And naturally, 50 percent of the people are deprived of online services, the statement reads.
"If we look at the capacity of the mobile phone operators, we can see that they use one megahertz spectrum to serve 20 lakh people. Some countries use 60-100 megahertz spectrum to serve one crore users," said the BMPCA president.
"We can easily guess what the result of serving with low spectrum is. For slow-paced internet, it is tough to get 3G, let alone 4G. Excessive use of mobile phone data is irritating the users."
Closure of schools and colleges may save the citizens but the nation will lose merits, he added in the statement.
Mohiuddin also suggested four potential solutions to get rid of the situation.
"There is no alternative to online services for everyone. To ensure it, we have to make the way first," he said.
Secondly, the end-level users should get phones from the mobile operators. There should be easy instalments to get the mobile phones and without any security bonds.
Thirdly, the ISPs should provide fixed internet connection without any security deposit. At the same time, the monthly charge should be maximum Tk200. And finally, all the schools and colleges should be brought under online services.
"Earlier, we demanded that spectrum be distributed to the operators free of cost under certain conditions," Mohiuddin said in the statement.
"Already Robi, Banglalink and Teletalk have applied for free spectrum for three months. On the other part, Grameenphone has applied to buy spectrum at a reasonable cost. Both the applications should be evaluated separately," the statement reads.
"As Grameenphone has made a profit worth Tk1,000 crore even in this crisis moment, we recommend to approve spectrum at a reasonable price to it. It will help to get revenue worth Tk5-10 thousand crore," according to the BMPCA statement.
On the other hand, if the government can realise Tk11,000 crore in dues from Grameenphone, it could help to make a coronavirus fund of around Tk20,000 crore.
"We also recommend to allocate spectrum to three other operators free of cost under conditions. It will help to provide online services to the 17 crore people of the country," he added.