Data usage shoots up

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The use of international internet bandwidth by Bangladesh soared 73.38 percent year-on-year to 456 gigabits per second at the end of third quarter of 2017, in a development that suggests the country is marching fast towards digitisation.

“People’s lifestyle has evolved. Nowadays people are using the internet for entertainment, education and many other things,” said MA Hakim, president of the Internet Service Providers Association Bangladesh.

The internet service providers are supplying more than 70 percent of the bandwidth and the mobile operators the rest, though most people are using the internet from their smartphones, he said.

The rise in internet subscribers is the main reason for the increase in the bandwidth usage, according to industry insiders. At the end of September, the total number of internet users in Bangladesh stood at 7.92 crore, up 18.39 percent from a year earlier, according to data from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

Wholesale bandwidth providers said the total usage crossed the 500 Gbps-mark in recent weeks. At the end of 2016, it was 380 Gbps.

M Rokonuzzaman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at North South University, termed the growth tremendous.

He, however, said there is still a lot left to be done.

“Bangladesh is on the process of digitisation, so more and more data will be required in the near future.”

Per capita data consumption was only 5kbps in 2012 in contrast to 250kbps in Singapore, according to Rokonuzzaman. “This picture needs to change.”  The data growth is much lower than the expectation even though a huge number of people are not using internet for productive purposes, said a BTRC official.

Rokonuzzaman said the government and the telecom regulator should promote the benefits of internet to boost the use of bandwidth. The mobile operators’ data promotions are targeted towards encouraging more social media use, much to the chagrin of Rokonuzzaman.

State-run Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd is also experiencing fabulous growth, said Mashiur Rahman, its managing director.

“Currently, we are supplying 60 percent of the country’s total demand and hopefully this scenario will be more favourable for us in the coming days.”

The submarine cable company has connected its second cable, helping cut imports, Rahman said.