Are you satisfied with the Internet you are using? What are u getting for the amount you are paying?

The number of Internet users is increasing in an exponential rate in Bangladesh. Submarine cable has really ignited the boom in this sector. But it is the infrastructure hasn’t really helped the end users to get the full benefit of it. Specially broadband internet has a very limited coverage and can really meet a very little number of people. The broadband that many local ISPs or bandwidth distributors provide can hardly be said as broadband since most of them provide less than 10 KiloByte (80 kbps) to the end users. The government is lowering the bandwidth cost, but the benefit of this is going to these ISPs and distributors. Their bandwidth cost is going down but they hardly lower their price for their offerings to the end users.

It is also true that some of the ISPs are providing fair enough bandwidth (per second) at a reasonable price. But they can’t increase their coverage due to some local providers. These local providers don’t allow other bigger ISPs to operate in their areas specially through cable service. They often snatch the cables of the bigger ISPs in their areas restricting them in their areas and thus depriving the people of that certain area.

Some of the ISPs have started offering radio link (wireless) services at a very reasonable price for the home internet users. X-net (http://www.xpressbd.net) is one of them. The connection fee is only 3000 taka which includes all setup fee. The monthly packages are also fair enough (128 kb- 1000 tk, 188 kb- 1350 tk, 288 kb- 1650 tk) . Eastern Link Bangladesh (http://www.smile.com.bd) is another ISP providing internet through Optical Fiber Cable (upto user end) and for that they only charge 1000 taka. They have a big coverage area in Dhaka city and their packages are very dynamic to meet the demands of various categories of people.

There are many other ISPs who are providing very good services, therefore don’t stick to the one if you aren’t happy with its service and if you got option to get the other ones.

The biggest prospectus method of internet connection will be through telecom sector. I have discussed in my earlier posts how those can influence in increasing internet users in Bangladesh. Internet through mobile phones or fixed wireless phones are really widening the scope since their coverage is country wide and it will not require any further infrastructure to provide internet service to the people. GrameenPhone has covered most of the part of the country with EDGE services. Other GSM operators have already started deploying EDGE network (GPRS exists already) in different part of the country. Citycell being the only CDMA mobile provider has also done a good job by deploying CDMA-1x network and also offering high speed internet.

Let’s get back to three-four years time – A mobile phone call cost was 7 Taka per minute and dialup internet charge was 40-50 paisa per minute. A broadband connection at that time was 1000 – 1500 taka for 4-15 kilobyte per second. Now, a mobile phone call costs not more than 1 Taka (even as low as 25 paisa) and what about the Internet scenario? How much has the internet cost reduced? If telecom service providers can reduce their cost that much why couldn’t the inhabitants feel the change in Internet sector?? – where as we got the revolutionary Submarine cable connection. Many a people say that the introduction of new competitors in the mobile phone sectors was the key to the reduction of mobile phone service cost. But there are even more competitors in the Internet service but still the price is not going down. Moreover, the government has reduced the bandwidth charge in several occasions. Maybe the number of internet users are growing in more pace than the service providers and therefore the demand hasn’t gone down. Since there is a gap between demand and supply the service providers are taking chance. Another reason may be because of the inexperienced local internet providers. Unlike cable TV, the government should restrict the local Internet providers most of whom buy a chunk of bandwidth and redistribute it to a certain area. Internet Service should come through ISPs upto a certain standard who can maintain service level and ensure a minimum speed.

So we’ve got even more ways of getting internet connection coming to us. But it is the lack of a certain code of conduct by the government which will allow people to get a minimum service level for the amount they are paying. Someone is paying 700 taka to get 30 Kilobyte speed and on the other hand there are some people who are paying 1500 taka or more to get 4-5 Kilobyte per second. This really isn’t fair. What government should do is to fix a price tag for different bandwidth for the home users. And example of a speed – price structure can be as follows:

  • 64 kbps – 300 taka per month
  • 128 kbps – 500 taka per month
  • 256 kbps – 800 taka per month
  • 512 kbps – 1200 taka per month
  • 1 mbps – 2000 taka per month

Shared or Dedicated?

Since the ISPs have a large number of clients therefore even if their Bandwidth User ratio is higher the clients will get better speed. Many of us are not aware of how the bandwidth is distributed among the users. But I believe most of you have heard the terms “Shared” and “Dedicated”. Shared bandwidth means a number of clients are given a certain bandwidth which will be shared among themselves. For example 10 home users are given a 256 ( 32 Kilobytes) per second. If all of the 10 users uses the connection at its full pace they are supposed to get 25.6 kbps (3.2 Kilobyte/ps). But it is a fact that not all the users use the connection simultaneously. Therefore if 4 users are active, they will get the 256 kbps that is 8 kilobyte per second(64 kbps). Now think that if the ISP has more users and fixes 2 mbps for 100 users the ratio remains same. Now if we again consider 40 % active users therefore there will be 40 out of 100 clients active. Again not all of them will be using the internet at its full pace. Some will be casually browsing, some will be just chatting and some will be connected yet not transfering any data. So users who will be downloading will get the most of the speeds. This is the benefit of being a client of the bigger ISP.

On the other hand Dedicated speed doesn’t really mean that a client will get exactly the committed speed. Infact dedicated speed does mean the minimum speed a client will get. Same Bandwidth- User ratio exists there in Dedicated connection. But here the gap is low. I mean, there are less users for more bandwidth.

Most of the ISPs pay to their bandwidth supplier in bandwidth per second format. Therefore It is useless if a chunk of bandwidth is reserved for a certain client and the client doesn’t use that. The distribution format described in the earlier two paras ensure that the bandwidth is not wasted. A good ISP maintains a little gap in the Bandwidth-User ratio and maintains better bandwidth management mechanism to maximize the profit yet maintaining good service level. Local Internet providers buy a small bandwidth and tries to maximize their outcome by distributing the bandwidth to as many users as possible and do possess no bandwidth management mechanisms, which is the ultimate reason of poor quality service and less bandwidth.

Therefore if your local internet provider do say that we’ve got 320 kbps or 512 kbps connection, don’t be flattered. Ask them how many users they have and also ask them what will be their committed speed. I can remember there were many seminars, processions, meetings and protests to reduce mobile phone cost. But I can hardly remember such initiatives by the internet users. It is the time to be aware of what we are supposed to get and if we (Bangladesh) really want to flourish in the ICT sector in Bangladesh.

– Hasibul Islam

(Also available at NSUers.com with a poll)

GrameenPhone achieves 20 million (2 crore) subcribers.

June 24, 2008

Bangladesh’s top mobile phone carrier Grameenphone, majority owned-by Norway’s Telenor, said on Monday the number of its subscribers has passed 20 million after rising more than 21 percent since January.

Grameenphone invested more than $500 million in 2007 expanding its business.

“We are humbled by the trust placed on Grameenphone by more than 20 million subscribers,” said Anders Jensen, chief executive of GrameenPhone.

“Grameenphone’s premium brand image for providing the best quality network, innovative and useful products and services, and ensuring committed customer service are the main pillars of our success,” he added.

Bangladesh’s mobile phone sector has been growing rapidly, with the number of subscribers reaching more than 42 million at the end of May from only 200,000 in 2001, helped by competitive tariffs and cheap handsets.

The number is expected to pass 70 million by 2011 as competition in the sector heats up, analysts have said.

Grameenphone’s competitors include Egyptian Orascom Telecom’s Banglalink, AKTel, majority owned by Telekom Malaysia International, Citycell, a joint venture between Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited (PBTL) and Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), and Gulf-based Warid Telecom and state-run Teletalk.

Although nearly half of Bangladesh’s population of more than 140 million people are still below poverty line, the country has been one of world’s fastest growing cellular markets.

-Reuters, Dhaka

GrameenPhone growth graph

BTTB, submarine cable to function as separate companies from July 1

June 09, 2008

The Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) and the Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited are going to work as separate companies from July 1, officials said on Sunday.

Secretary of the posts and telecommunications ministry Iqbal Mahmud told the news agency that the BTTB would work as the Bangladesh Telecommunication Company Limited, and the submarine cable unit of the BTTB will be separated and renamed as the BSCCL.

The BTTB has been valued as a Tk 15,000 crore company with its total assets. The submarine cable has been valued at Tk 1,000 crore.

Already work is going on for making applications this week with the registrar of joint stock companies for their registration as companies with the valuation of their total assets, Mahmud said.

Their registration fees will cost nearly Tk 45 lakh. The clearance to work under the new names have already been available.

Mahmud said there are no opportunities for delaying their conversion any further than the scheduled period. There is no allocation for the BTTB in the new budget for 2008-09, he added.

The new BTCL company will have to sustain itself with its own incomes. But no officials will lose their jobs. The company must survive competing with its private sector rivals on its own merit and services.

There will be no shortcomings in the new company’s services and customer services vis-a- vis with other fixed and cellular phone companies, the telecom secretary hoped.

After appearing as a company, the BTCL will have new surprises for its telephone subscribers. For that the demands and facilities for the customers are being monitored.

As a primary step, the Teletalk subscribers in Dhanmondi area will be offered to pay their bills through flexiload. Teletalk has already completed all preparations in this regard, Mahmud said.

-BSS, Dhaka

A Little about WiMAX (Part-2)

  • What actually WiMAX can do?

As discussed in earlier post, WiMAX works with the same principal as WiFi works. Data receiving and sending takes place through radio signal. Like WiFi there can be encryption system or other enhanced security system which prevents unauthorized access. The maximum data transfer rate through WiFi can be up to 54 Mbps under optimal conditions. WiMAX will be able to provide 70Mbps and will support more users at a time. You may find the speed is not anything that much from what WiFi can support. It’s not the speed, its the distance that is the key point. A WiFi access point can allow a radio transmission within 100-1000 meters under optimal condition. On the other hand a WiMAX base station can cover an area having a radius of upto 50 Km. This range can vary depending upon terrain, weather and large buildings and other obstacles.

  • Cost Analysis for WiMAX

WiMAX is not going to be something cheap. It will require a good amount to deploy the system. Do you know you can do a networking among two or more pcs within a room using a bluetooth. This range of networking is Personal Area Network (PAN) and the range is too limited as well as the deployment cost. Then comes wifi. WiFi can cover the range of a Local Area Network. WiFi is infact the wireless version of LAN. Therefore it has a better coverage and the deployment is better too compared to PAN. A WiFi access point can cover a moderate sized neighborhood at most. Therefore you should be able to imagine a cost it would require to get a coverage of a Metropolitan City.

ISPs or other operators who ever wants to build their WiMAX network will have to bear the initial costing. Setting up base stations will be the major issue, from the users point of view, they will be requiring an adapter like WiFi (Wireless Lan). These adapters may initially cost more than $100 (around 7000 BDT). Laptop manufacturers have already started embedding WiMAX adapter into the upcoming Laptops. But the real hurdle will be to bring areas under WiMAX coverage.

Mobile phone operators in Bangladesh has done a great job so far ensuring greater coverage with their networks. Establishing such strong networks were also very expensive. They can be the potential deployer. But other companies like ISPs should get involved in this process since they have expertise and has a good future through WiMAX backbone. It will also ensure that WiMAX will not remain under a few companies thus restricting monopoly in this sector.

Although WiMAX license will be issued within this year, it will take a reasonable enough time to reach the fruit to the end users. In the meantime 3G can be a very good option for the mobile phone operators and other wireless fixed phone operators since they can really afford to integrate 3G to their existing network and since 3G license will also be issued within this year.

If you have any other information on the deployment cost of WiMAX and 3G, you are requested to please share it with us.

Total Number of Phone Subscribers in Bangladesh (March-2008)

The total number of Mobile Phone Subscribers has reached 38.93 million at the end of March 2008.

The Mobile Phone subscribers according to operators are shown below:

Operators

Subscribers

Grameen Phone Ltd. (GP)

17.81

TMIB (Aktel)

7.45

Orascom Telecom Bangladesh Limited (Banglalink)

8.31

PBTL (Citycell)

1.56

Teletalk Bangladesh Ltd. (Teletalk)

1.01

Warid Telecom International L.L.C (Warid)

2.79

Total

38.93

 *Subscribers in Millions

**The above subscribers’ numbers are declared by the mobile operators.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The total number of PSTN Phone Subscribers has reached 1,168.627 thousand at the end of March 2008.

The PSTN Phone subscribers are shown below:

Operators

Subscribers

BTTB

872.409

Ranks Telecom Ltd.

129.232

Onetel Communication Ltd.

37.409

National Telecom Ltd.

24.087

Peoples Telecom Ltd.

37.190

Westec Ltd.

17.000

Dhaka Telephone Co. Ltd.

44.045

Sheba Phone Ltd. (ISL)

7.255

Total

1,168.627

 

 *Subscribers in Thousands

**The above subscribers’ numbers are declared by the PSTN operators

Source: BTRC Website

GPRS / EDGE / 1xRTT – Access to Internet in Bangladesh using mobile technology

Previous Relevant article: EDGE / GPRS / EVDO

My previous post on this issue was written in 9th August 2007. Since then there has been some changes in the service type and tariff of the Edge / GPRS / 1xRTT (Citycell Zoom) services by the operators. Also some new competitors have emerged in the market. But those are not Mobile phone Operators, They are Fixed phone Operators, although it doesn’t require any cable connection and these phone service is almost like mobile phones.

eg, Dhaka Phone, National Phone, Ranks Telecom etc.

They work using same technology as mobile phones ( 1xRTT in most of the cases) but the difference is that they can’t support network mobility. I know the term is not clear enough. Let me clarify what I wanted to mean by network mobility. Like mobile phones You can talk using a wireless set (rather bigger set like old bttb land phones) with these operators, but you can not move from one BTS (nearest base station) to another BTS while talking. In cases of mobile phone, when you move from one place to another, you connection automatically connects to the nearest BTS without interrupting your call. But this is not possible in the cases of Dhaka phone , National Phone or other operators like these.

One of the benefit of these operators is that the handset they provide to the customers have a built in modem in most of the cases using which the customers can also connect to the internet as well as talking. And these operators are using sophisticated technology like CDMA-1xRTT in most of the cases. This is the technology used by Citycell. Therefore they can also provide high speed internet in Bangladeshi context (153 Kbps). There offers are also interesting and competitive enough.

Official website of Dhaka Phone: http://www.dhakaphone.com

Official website of Ranks Telecom: http://www.rankstel.com

Official website of National Phone: http://www.nationalphone.net

However the mobile phone operators are not sitting and watching others crossing them!! Grameen phone was the pioneer in introducing Edge service. Now they have increased there edge network vastly throughout the country and still holding the number 1 position in providing such services. I still use the unlimited package and the speed is very good (26-27 Kilo Bytes per second in most of the time). GP unlimited internet costs 1000 taka per month (1150 including VAT). Grameen phone introduced a new package titled “P3” for its users. According to this package the subscriber of this package will be able to use unlimited internet from 12 am (night) to 7 Am spending 300 Taka (+VAT) only. The package was available for both prepaid and postpaid, eventually which is only available for the post paid users at the moment. GP has also offered the famous “P2” unlimited usage per month for the prepaid users with the same tariff as the postpaid. http://www.grameenphone.com/index.php?id=134

Citycell was not far behind and Citycell’s zoom really attracted people because of its vast publicity and better service as well. But the Data transfer limit is still the disadvantage for anyone who is using citycell zoom although they provide a good data rate. A recent introduction of the Zoom service through prepaid and postpaid has got the attention of the people although I couldn’t be that impressed with the offer. It is some thing like how we used dial up internet. The cost is something like 80 paisa/minute during the peak, 60 p/min during the off peak and 25p/min during the super off peak. To me, the per minute price is very high compared to other facilities of the internet. http://www.citycell.com

Warid is claiming that they have introduced EDGE service throughout the Dhaka city along with some other cities. But the speed is very poor ( I have checked it). Besides there claim is not true as I found EDGE network of WARID only covers only Gulshan, Banani and parts of Uttara although the speed is nothing better than normal GPRS speed ( never more than 5-6 KB). However, Warid has introduced unlimited internet for a monthly payment of 1000 taka (1150 including VAT) for its postpaid customers. Prepaid customer still don’t have anyother option rather than 2p/1KB that is 20 taka per mega byte data transfer. http://www.waridtel.com.bd/portal/page?_pageid=133,249890&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

Aktel is also testing its Edge network and many people saw Edge network through their mobile phone (Some mobile set can differentiate between EDGE (E) and GPRS (G) netrwork). And some of them said they got good speed using Aktel’s internet service. If Aktel can provide EDGE it will be a very good tariff for mobile phone unlimited internet users because Aktel only charges 750 taka (without VAT) per month for unlimited usage. http://www.aktel.com/?module=32

Banglalink is still far behind in this race offering unlimited internet for the enterprise solution users (for 600 Taka) and 2p/KB for prepaid users. What positioned them behind is that they haven’t started EDGE network yet not even in a single area. http://www.banglalinkgsm.com/html1/gprs.php
I almost forgot about Teletalk, the only nation owned mobile phone operator. For quite a long time teletalk is not in the frame. I don’t know how is it doing but I don’t think they are at any sort of good condition. They are still carrying the tarrif for their Customers. Ofcourse Teletalk is the first operator to introduce unlimited internet facility for any prepaid users. Their tariff is still same as before which they started with (800 taka + VAT). http://www.teletalk.com.bd/services/gprs.html

Dhaka Phone has a flat rate offer of 30 paisa per minute. I have used the internet and the speed was pretty good (around 12-16 kilobytes per second).

National Phone provides unlimited internet usage for 1200 taka per month. They provide quite good data transfer rate (12-16 kilo bytes per second). They have some other time band packages too as well as 25 paisa per minute flat rate.

Ranks Telecom offers various packages for both its post paid and prepaid users.

Package 1 (Prepaid Only)
Search 10am – 5pm Tk. 0.75/ min
5pm -10pm Tk. 0.50/ min
10pm – 10am Tk. 0.25/ min
Window No Use No Pay Tk. 1/ MB
Package 2 (Post Paid Only)
Pointer(Super) 3 GB Unlimited Tk 1/ MB 1000 /-
Pointer 1 GB Unlimited Tk. 1/ MB 800/-
Messenger 500 MB Unlimited Tk. 1/ MB 350/-
Download Unlimited 10 pm-8 am Tk. 1/ MB 400/-
Window Unlimited N/A N/A Tk. 1/ MB

3G and WiMaX technology will soon emerge in Bangladesh, and therefore we can predict a boost in the data service by the telecom operators. Let’s wait for the golden days………..

Hasibul Islam

The article is also available at-    http://community.nsuers.com/showthread.php?t=3346

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BandarBan Tour- March 26-29 (2008) – At a Glance

Tour Partners: Ashik, Mizan, Mushfiq, Ranku, Shafayat and Zea

Route: Dhaka – Chittagong – Bandarban – Chittagong – Dhaka.

Vehicles: Bus, Rented Car, Chander Gari & Rickshaw.

View Points at Bandarban: Shorno mondir (Golden Temple), Shoilo Propat (Rocky Fall), Tiger Hill, Shangu River, Chimbuk & NiliGiri

Details:

Day1: We started from the Saudia S. Alam Bus counter at Fakirapool. After a good Battle, our manager mushfiq managed ticket for the bus of 11 am. The bus was a real masterpiece and it was of the brand Mercedes Benz.

It was a total comfort inside it as we booked the most luxurious 6 seats. 6 seats because Mizan joined us the next day.

Anyway, it was a pleasant journey and we reached at CTG by 4. Ashik’s immediate elder brother Asif bhai booked the tickets for us for our Bandarban trip from CTG. Our bus started at 6 and we reached at around 9 pm. We knew that we’ll be out of mobile network while we’ll be there at Bandarban, therefore we contacted our home and conveyed our msgs. Mobile phone signal went out when we were about 5 km away from the Bandarban town. Anyway, we then went directly to a hotel and took our supper. We were a bit confused regarding where to stay. Ashik contacted with his friend Capt. Shahed who already booked a place for us to stay.

It was the Horticulture centre, just beside the Cantonment and the police line and it was around a 20 minutes ride by rickshaw. The place was very comfortable and silent as it was a bit out of the town. The arrangements were great although not luxurious. That night we went to bed at around 3 am as we kept talking about various private (!!) matters and ofcourse each of us got our turn to be pochafied…

We tried to plan for the next day but failed to do so. Anyway, we knew that there were restrictions on different parts of Bandarban as the cheif advisor was there to visit Bandarban. So we were a bit anxious on what would happen the next day.

Day 2:

We woke up at 8 am and it took us around 1 and a half hour to be prepared to go out. Then we went out of the horticulture centre for a lazy walk towards the Shorno Mondir (Golden Temple).

Zea convinced Ashik (As Ashik was not in a mood to walk as always) that it will take no more than 15 mins to reach the place, and believe it or not we reached after an hours walk and we had to climb very high to get some gorgeous views of the temple as well as other surroundings.

Then we got back to the horticulture and found that Mizan arrived there and waiting for us.

He didn’t miss much except for the funny talk in the previous night and the enchanting view of the temple. But he didn’t miss this fall also… ha ha ha…

Anyway, after taking a shower we started for the town and at around 1:30 pm we finally took our Brunch (Breakfast + Lunch). Although we were out of mobile network there were telephone shop every here and there at Bandarban and even beside the gate of Horticulture centre. They used mobile phones to communicate but with the help of high gain antenna. Anyway, after having the BRUNCH we were about to start for the shoilopropat and Tiger hill. But unfortunately we found there were no vehicles to take us to those places.

Atlast all we could manage was a CHANDER GARI (Very old toyota Zeep) and with a fare of taka 1000 (too high for a vehicle like chander gari). The scarcity was because of Cheif advisor’s trip to Bandarban and all the public transports were requisitioned. Anyway we started for the shoilo propat through chander gari and through a very hilly road. We reached shoilo propat quite comfortably and enjoyed every moment there. The place was a rocky place and a fall was there. The water was crystal clear and the local people even used the water for drinking as well as bathing.


Symbol of Bad Luck.. We almost lost our lives after an hour

After spending some unforgettable moments we started for the Tiger hill. We stopped at the resort of the Guide tours to have a look and to our amuse we found some of our NSU buddies there.

Then we started again for Tiger Hill. Just a kilometer after we started our vehicle went out of control as it was climbing down the hilly road. The driver lost the control completely and the zeep hit the hill at the left side where it could merely survive and stop. Had it gone towards the left when lost control, we were thousands of feet down and I doubt if anybody could trace our body. Thanks to Almighty Allah we survived that time. After getting down from the vehicle and looking at the fall that we missed we were really shocked to find that we were so close to the death that day.

Anyway after 4/5 km we changed our vehicle and this time it was another Chander Gari in a slightly better condition. The road towards Tiger hill was even more dangerous and crowded. However, we finally reached Tiger Hill and we found that all our sufferings were worthy enough after reaching the place.

It was the highest point around Bandarban town. Bandarban was more than a thousand and five hundred feet down from tiger hill. There was a nice watch tower right on top of Tiger Hill.

It reminded me the TIGER HILL in Darjeeling. That Tiger hill was also the highest point around Darjeeling and there were watch tower too. Anyway, from the tower we could even see the Bay of Bengal although it was more than 50 km away from where we were standing. After around an hour we started back for the Bandarban town.

Day 3:

Please Visit the following Link:
Bandarban Tour (Part 2) – Shangu cruise – NiliGiri – Random

WiMax and 3G in Bangladesh

In a recent talk show, the chairman of BTRC ( Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission) Major General Manjurul Alam (Rtd) has said that WiMax and 3g license will be issued in Bangladesh soon. The WiMax license will be issued within 3/4 months and in the mean time Ericsson and Huwei will be given a trial license(for 3 months period). 3G license will be issued at the end of this year. The BTRC chairman also said that the deployment of WiMax in Bangladesh will bring some revolutionary changes in the telecommunication sector although it will cost a high price to be deployed. The chairman also discussed on some technical advantages WiMax and 3G will provide. The revenue from this sector has increased a lot and he expects that with the current trend the scope is further high. Mr. Manjur also mentioned that the alternate Optical Fiber Link which is due to connect us to the SEA-WE-ME 4, will introduce competition with the current link ensuring drop in the connectivity price. Thus people will be able to get bandwidth with much cheaper price and ofcourse with higher data speed.