The fourth generation internet service (4G), with 20Mbps speed, is set to be available from January 2018.
On November 29, State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim said: "We are ready to provide 4G services from January. The internet speed will be initially 20 Mbps.”
However, insiders are skeptical of the announcement, saying providing 20Mbps internet is impossible in light of existing conditions.
Some pointed out that when 3G was introduced in the market, its minimum speed limit was not fixed. Mobile operators initially sold internet packages indicating the internet speed; however, they eventually stopped mentioning the speed.
On the other hand, the broadband internet speed has been set at 5Mbps.
The review of the National Broadband Policy 2009 indicate that the minimum speed limit for broadband has changed three times in the policy. It was initially set at 128Kbps, then 1Mbps, and most recently, 5Mbps.
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The review also says if the internet providers are able to deliver at least 70% of the fixed speed, it can be recognized as “broadband.” If the speed is lower than that, it should be regarded as “narrow band” internet.
Till now, the minimum speed of broadband was not determined, according to sector insiders. They said expecting 20Mbps speed for 4G may be disappointing.
Experts further opined that given the current internet users’ density, and infrastructure, and net neutrality in the country, the 4G offer seems unrealistic.
The global standard for 4G speed is 16Mbps.
According to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the number of active mobile subscribers is over 143 million.
Meanwhile, a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) study says 17% of the country's total mobile phone users are using 3G. Based on that estimate, the number of 3G users in the country is over 24.3 million.
By investing Tk32,000 crore in 3G, mobile operators have made Tk6,000 crores, sources also said.
Association of Mobile Telecom Operators (Amtob) Secretary General Nurul Kabir told the Bangla Tribune: “The speed that was announced exceeds the global standard. This is unrealistic. We could not yet guarantee 3G service in the whole country, and it has no fixed speed.
"So in the current context, it is not possible to get 20Mbps speed.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune