Costly digital devices and a lack of infrastructure are the main challenges in providing quality telecommunication services to remote areas of the country, said speakers in the second part of a webinar series on Tuesday.
They said that integrated work among stakeholders and proper monitoring by the regulator will ensure the expected service for marginalised people.
The discussion titled "Contribution of Mobile Operators to Building Digital Bangladesh and Marginal Users' Satisfaction" was jointly arranged by the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (Amtob) and Daffodil International University (DIU).
Brigadier General (retd) SM Farhad, secretary-general of Amtob, moderated the programme with NM Zeaul Alam, senior secretary to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division, in the chair.
Md Mohsinul Alam, director-general of the Department of Telecommunications, presented a keynote paper at the webinar.
In his concluding remark, NM Zeaul Alam said that the quality of the mobile service will improve if operators develop their research and development sector.
Speaking about the challenges of providing services in remote areas, Grameenphone's Head of Public and Regulatory Affairs Hossain Sadat said that people's financial limitations and a lack of infrastructure are the main problems for mobile operators to provide quality services.
"The digital devices are very costly compared to users' financial affordability as most devices are still being imported. In addition, high taxation on telecoms services is a big challenge," he said.
"Currently, a customer has to pay Tk133.33 to avail a service of Tk100," he added.
Apart from this, the lack of fibre optic cables is also a big challenge for mobile operators in providing the expected data services, Hossain Sadat continued.
He said that currently, mobile operators are getting only 10% support from fibre optics in data services – which should be 30-40%.
"Coordination among mobile operators and Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network operators will improve the situation," he added.
Bikarna Kumar Ghosh, additional secretary to the ICT Division, said that his ministry is working to reduce the digital divide between the rural and urban areas.
"If the definition of broadband internet is 10Mbps, that should be available both in urban and remote areas. And we are working to ensure that quality," he said.
Bikarna Kumar Ghosh stated that the government has already laid out the fibre to all upazilas across the country. Now, it has been working to expand the facility to all union levels under a government project.
Among others, DIU's Additional Registrar Dr Mohammad Nadir Bin Ali and Assistant Professor Engineer Zahirul Islam spoke at the webinar.