The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on Sunday announced unified retail tariff for broadband internet services across Bangladesh, which will allow rural consumers to enjoy their connection at a rate that is currently only available to urban users.
This move bars internet service providers from charging a customer more than Tk500 for a bandwidth of 5Mbps, whether they are located in urban or rural areas. The tariff will be effective immediately, said Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar.
He added that the cost of a 10Mbps connection will be Tk700-Tk800 per month, while a connection of 20Mbps and above will cost users Tk1,100-Tk1,200. The BTRC has named the initiative "One Country, One Rate."
Urban customers are currently paying more or less Tk600 for a 5Mbps broadband connection per month, while the cost for the same internet bandwidth is around Tk1500-Tk2000 in rural areas.
For example, residents of a union under Borhanuddion Upazila in Bhola pay Tk500 for only 1Mpbs bandwidth internet. Such disparity can be found all over Bangladesh. The BTRC aims to resolve this issue by enforcing the newly announced unified retail tariff.
Inaugurating the tariff at a ceremony in the capital's BTRC office, Mustafa Jabbar said, "We have decided to impose this tariff not only to mitigate the digital divide, but to ensure equality among the people too. We want to make sure that nobody becomes a victim of injustice."
He added that the government will soon announce tariffs for other slabs.
The country has 11.54 crore internet subscribers, of which, 83% are mobile internet users and 17% are broadband users.
Broadband internet users however are utilising the 58% or 1,392Gbps internet bandwidth of the country's total consumption of 2,409Gbps, said BTRC Director General (Systems and Services Division) Brig Gen Md Nasim Parvez.
BTRC Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder attended the tariff inauguration programme.
The commission's Vice-Chairman Subrata Roy Maitra, Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) president MA Hakim, IIG Association of Bangladesh (IIGAB) Secretary General Ahmed Junayed also spoke at the event among others.