Monday, December 31, 2007

Bangladesh likely to cut 50% internet tariff

DHAKA, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Bangladesh government is likely to cut internet tariff by 50 percent soon in a bid to boost the country's ICT (information and communication technology) industry, local newspaper The Daily Star reported Monday.

Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB), which is responsible to fix internet tariff, last week sent a proposal to finance ministry to reduce prices.

Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) earlier urged the government to reduce the tariff by 75 percent so that Bangladesh's software companies can compete in the global market.

An internet subscriber has to pay 35,000 taka (about 500 U.S. dollars) a month for 256 kbps (kilobits per second) dedicated internet connection to BTTB. But in India, a subscriber pays the amount that is hardly 1,800 taka (about 25.7 U.S. dollars) for the same connection.

BTTB's charge for 512 kbps dedicated internet connection is 62,500 taka (about 893 U.S. dollars) and for 1 megabit is 120,000 (about 1,714 U.S. dollars). In India, charges for the same connections are about 64.3 U.S. dollars and 107 U.S. dollars.

The government's high internet tariff is holding back the country's software industry to have a strong position in the global market, BASIS President Rafiqul Islam Rowly was quoted as saying.

"Even after 50 percent reduction, we have to pay more than 10 times compared to the rates in India," said Shameen Ahsan, joint secretary of BASIS.

According to the industry insiders, the number of internet users is only 450,000 in the country. The home-based as well as industry users feel discouraged to use internet due to high rental costs.

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