The 11th general election is scheduled to be held on December 30
Slowing down the internet speed across the country on election day will hurt outsourcing outlets, freelancing businesses, and apps-based ride-sharing services, tarnishing the image of Bangladesh to global job providers, stakeholders said.
On Wednesday, Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said they were planning to slow down internet speed across the country on election day. But the internet speed will go back to normal after 5pm on the day.
He, however, did not clarify the reasons for the planned action.
The 11th general election is scheduled to be held on December 30.
“Reducing internet speed will adversely impact my business as I have to work with different countries’ job providers on priority basis. Freelancing is highly related to mobile internet connection and time bound,” Abul kashem, a freelancer in Bogra told the Dhaka Tribune on Thursday.
Besides freelancers, people involved in the ICT sector also think that the planned action of the Election Commission would have an adverse effect on internet-based businesses and services.
“Freelancers, who are typically out of broadband internet coverage and dependent on only mobile internet connection, will be the victims of the government’s abrupt decision,” Syed Almas Kabir, president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), told the Dhaka Tribune.
The planned decision would also tarnish the image of Bangladesh among the global audience, Kabir added.
According to the ICT Division, there are 650,000 registered freelancers and about 500,000 of them are working regularly in the country, earning around $100 million in foreign currency annually.
According to Oxford Internet Institute (OII) of Oxford University in the UK, Bangladesh now contributes 16.8% of all outsourced online workers in the world, a rate which is second only to India.
In addition, app-based ride-sharing services will also face problems due to the slow internet speed as they are fully internet dependent, business people said.
However, mobile financial services are likely to remain unaffected as they can be operated without internet connection.
But app-based transactions may be hit if the mobile network operators do not provide 2G services properly.
“We did not get any instructions from the government yet, and it would not hurt our business as it can be run without internet connection, using Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD),” Shamsuddin Haider Dalim, head of corporate communications of bKash Ltd, told the Dhaka Tribune.
But app-based transactions may face problems if the 2G service does not work properly, he added.