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Mobile internet users drop despite 3G launch

Ahmed Shawki

A woman watches YouTube video in her mobile phone using internet in Dhaka on Monday. The internet users through mobile phones witnessed a downtrend in last three months after the six mobile phone operators launched 3G service in September. — New Age photo A woman watches YouTube video in her mobile phone using internet in Dhaka on Monday. The internet users through mobile phones witnessed a downtrend in last three months after the six mobile phone operators launched 3G service in September. — New Age photo

The internet users through mobile phones witnessed a downtrend in last three months after the six mobile phone operators launched 3G service in September, showed a recent data of the telecom regulator.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission data showed that the mobile internet subscribers of the six operators were 3.50 crore in October, which dropped to 3.43 crore in November and dipped further to 3.41 crore in December last year.
Officials of the mobile phone companies said that the political crisis during October-December period was the main reason for the drop in the number of active internet users.
They said the network expansion for the 3G service also faced setback because of the political turmoil surrounding the January 5 general election.
  The four private mobile companies—Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Airtel— launched 3G internet service in late September while simultaneously running the 2G internet service across the country.
State-run Teletalk launched the 3G service in October 2012 and witnessed increase in user base in last three months unlike the five operators.
The BTRC data showed the total internet user of GP was 1.15 crore at the end of October which came down to 1.12 crore in December.
The Banglalink’s internet users were 1.01 crore in October which came down to 98.11 lakh in December.
Similarly, Robi’s internet users dropped to 94.24 lakh from 95.75 lakh, Airtel’s 31.27 lakh from 31.75 lakh and Citycell’s users dropped to 2.75 lakh from 2.87 lakh in October-December period.
The Teletalk, however, gained internet user during the period as its internet users were 3.32 lakh in October which rose to 3.56 lakh in December.
‘The political turmoil during October-December period was the main reason behind the fall of active internet users. As we provide only active users number to the BTRC so because of the crisis the number might have come down,’ GP’s chief corporate affairs officer Mahmud Hossain told New Age on Monday.
He said the overall business sector faced similar situation during the period.
Asked about the issues Robi corporate communications vice president Sayed Talat Kamal told New Age that the trend is not surprising.
‘The country was going through crisis at that period of time. So it’s not surprising,’ he said on Monday.
Four operators— Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Airtel— in an auction on September 8 bought 25 MHz spectrum by paying $21 million for each MHz from available 40MHz.
The operators, during their launch of the 3G service, said that the 3G service will enhance the speed of the internet and people will be using mobile internet more because of the high service quality.
The BTRC chairman Sunil Kanti Bose just after the auction, however, had told reporters that the amount of spectrum bought by the operators will be insufficient for customer satisfaction.
A BTRC directive last week asked the mobile phone operators to ensure quality service following a recent trend of increasing call drop, poor network coverage and unsatisfactory customer care support. 




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A woman watches YouTube video in her mobile phone using internet in Dhaka on Monday. The internet users through mobile phones witnessed a downtrend in last three months after the six mobile phone operators launched 3G service in September. — New Age photo
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