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Broadband internet services surge in Covid-19 pandemic

  • Published at 09:45 pm September 9th, 2020
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However, the number of mobile internet users is not growing as fast as the number of broadband internet users on WiFi

People being confined to their homes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been a boon for broadband internet service providers. Their business is booming with rising internet use.

However, the number of mobile internet users is not growing as fast as the number of broadband internet users on WiFi.

"With the increased number of broadband internet connections, mobile operators now find themselves in a narrow space for data business growth," said Zakir Hossain Khan, senior assistant director at the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).

The regulatory authority official said that people were choosing broadband for its faster speed and relatively low cost.  

Although, the number of mobile internet users still continues to be more than broadband users, Zakir added. 

As per BTRC data, the number of new internet subscribers spiked from March, when the country went into shutdown, and people were forced to stay at home.

The total number of subscribers was 99.98 million in February, which jumped to 103.47 million in June, up by 3.49 million, according to the BTRC.

The regulator said that the growth of broadband internet was higher than mobile internet, in terms of user numbers, over the months.

Broadband users increased from 2.82 million in February to 8.57 million in June, while mobile internet subscribers increased by only 0.66 million to 94.905 million, the BTRC said.

Meanwhile, mobile operators have been facing a decline in their number of subscribers (SIM users).

According to the BTRC, operators lost 4.819 million SIM users from February to June this year.

In the four-month period, Grameenphone's customer base declined by 1.33 million to 74.53 million in June, while Robi's subscribers fell by 1.63 million to 47.98 million, Banglalink by 1.74 million to 34.03 million, and Teletalk fell 4.873 million, to 4.757 million.

Users increase in new patterns 

Nafim Zaman, a BBA student of Brac University, plays PUBG online at home in his leisure time over the extended pandemic ‘holiday.’ 

He bought a broadband line with 12mbps speed to make his time more enjoyable.

“Since I cannot go to my university or outside to meet friends amid the pandemic, I started playing games, watching movies, and other internet-based activities to spend my leisure time,” he said.

Another new internet user, Asma Chowdhury from Jatrabari, is a seventh grade student. Just a week ago her father got an internet line for her to do her online school classes. 

“I wanted to share the internet line from my neighbor, but later I came to know that a high speed internet connection is needed for online classes. Paying Tk600 per month, I got us our own line so that my daughter can seamlessly participate in her online classes,” said Asma’s father Afzal Hussain.

Like Nafim and Asma, people are taking broadband connections for various purposes. Some use social media sites, some play online games, and some while away their time audio-video chatting with friends.

With the shutdown of schools, offices, shops and markets, people have started working from home, passing time using social media. Students are attending classes over the internet, customers are buying products on e-commerce sites,  internet use has gone up, and the broadband business has surged.

'Unemployment rose because of the pandemic but many people have been busy creating new income sources online. Also, many city residents have left Dhaka and other big cities, and have become internet subscribers in their village homes,” said Majharul Islam, head of manager, Irfa Network, a local ISP in Rampura and Jatrabari. 

Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) President MA Hakim told Dhaka Tribune that the number of internet subscribers decreased in Dhaka but increased outside as people left Dhaka city amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

However, the use of internet data, even with a reduced number of users, has gone up in Dhaka with people being online more, he added.

“On average internet data use has increased 30-35% and the number of total subscribers has  gone up some 80 lakh to about a crore, in the pandemic. Currently the country is using around 1750gbps, which was less than 1500gbps earlier,” the president said.