Bangladesh ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of digital quality of life mainly due to the country's worst performance in mobile internet speed, says an index by Surfshark, a cybersecurity company widely cited by Bloomberg, BBC and The Hindu.
The third annual edition of the Digital Quality of Life Index 2021, which was released on 13th September, put Bangladesh at 103rd position among 110 countries covering 90% of the global population.
The people of the country have enjoyed the third-worst digital quality of life in Asia, as it ranked 30th among 32 countries in the region, only ahead of Tajikistan (104th globally) and Cambodia (108th globally).
Sumon Ahmed Sabir, a telecom expert having 20 years of experience in the ICT sector, said, "People in Bangladesh are largely dependent on mobile phone internet, as we do not have broadband services across the country."
He said the number of mobile phone users has increased significantly over the last two years but infrastructure has not developed accordingly.
"We talked about the 5G network two years ago but still the frequency for enhancing 3G and 4G is low. While the number of base transceiver stations (BTSs) in the country has not increased that much in the last two years, it has been initiated to increase in recent months by telecom service providers," Sumon Ahmed Sabir told The Business Standard.
"As a result, mobile internet services have deteriorated significantly. In this case, telecom service providers and regulators need to work together to solve this problem."
Moreover, Bangladesh dropped 25 notches from the 2020 index when the country was in the 78th position among 85 countries.
This year, the country achieved an index score of only 0.34 out of the best score of 1.
Among South Asian countries, India had the best digital quality of life as it ranked 59th with a score of 0.52 followed by Nepal (87th), Sri Lanka (88th), and Pakistan (97th).
The index is based on five core pillars – internet affordability, internet quality, e-infrastructure, e-security, and e-government – consisting of 14 indicators that define the quality of digital wellbeing across the countries.
Bangladesh's performance across pillars
Bangladesh has performed worst in e-security among all pillars which measure how safe and protected people feel in a country.
The country came 103rd in this pillar which also shows the preparedness to counter cybercrimes and its commitment to protecting an individual's online privacy, while Greece, the Czech Republic, and Estonia are the best for higher levels of electronic security.
With an average speed of 10.60Mbps from April 2020 to April 2021, Bangladesh's mobile phone users witnessed the slowest internet speed among the countries and ranked last at 110th position in the indicator.
Bangladesh also ranked poor in mobile speed improvement indicators and stood at 94th while the country performed the best in such indicators, with broadband internet stability standing at 16th, broadband speed growth at 44th, and mobile internet stability at 53rd.
The country ranked 89th in the quality of the internet connectivity pillar which considered these indicators.
It also ranked 89th in the e-infrastructure pillar which determines how well developed and inclusive in a country's existing electronic infrastructure.
In electronic government – how advanced and digitised are a country's government services – Bangladesh placed in 86th position.
When it comes to internet affordability, it ranked 84th.
Europe continues to lead
The 10 countries with the best digital quality of life were Denmark, South Korea, Finland, Israel, the United States of America, Singapore, France, Switzerland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Out of 10 countries with the best digital quality of life, six are from Europe. Furthermore, only 18 countries out of the top 50 are from outside Europe.
Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Cambodia were listed at the bottom.