Only six percent of the total mobile network users of Bangladesh in 2025 will enjoy Fifth Generation (5G) internet services, according to global mobile communication industry GSM Association (GSMA).
During the same year, Bangladesh's two neighbouring countries – India and Pakistan – will, respectively, have seven percent and six percent 5G users out of their total subscribers.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has already announced plans to launch 5G in the country in 2021 – and to make it available in all districts in 2023.
However, the GSMA says the country is yet to grow its 4G network properly.
According to the latest Asia Pacific edition of the GSMA Mobile Economy series, released on Monday, countries like Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan still have vast room to develop 4G networks while the 5G opportunity is longer term.
Bangladesh entered the 4G era in February 2018 but only 10 percent of users adopted the high-speed network up to 2019.
Even in 2025, less than half the users (46 percent) will embrace the 4G network, reads the report.
The lack of a flourishing 4G network in the country may prevent the growth of the 5G opportunity, it adds.
In 2019, only 40 percent of mobile phone users had a smartphone, which may grow to 69 percent in 2025.
However, smartphone adoption in India and Pakistan may be far faster in 2025, at 84 percent and 70 percent, respectively.
The Covid-19 pandemic in the Asia-Pacific region could cause a reduction in the number of 5G connections by 20 percent in 2020 from the previous projection.
However, the mobile operators in the region – some of the fastest-growing ones globally and home to over half the total global subscribers – will invest $414 billion in their networks between 2020 and 2025, according to the report.
Around 80 percent of the amount will be spent on the deployment of 5G networks, says GSMA.
According to the report, around 663 million people across the region will start using mobile internet for the first time in 2025.
However, Bangladesh would contribute only 25 million to it, far below than India (190 million) and Pakistan (46 million).
The total number of mobile internet users would be 2.7 billion by 2025.
Julian Gorman, head of APAC, GSMA, said, "The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of a robust digital economy to cushion the economic and industrial shock of control measures.
"Emerging economies need to do more to stimulate and evolve the digital ecosystem, including accelerated smartphone penetration and mobile broadband adoption to prepare the foundations for an inclusive 5G future."