e-commerce in Bangladesh

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Wimax Internet in Bangladesh: Facilities, Problems and Potentials

Compared to most countries even in South Asia, Bangladesh had late entrance in World wide information super high way  through submarine cable. Internet inBangladesh was opened in 1996 but until 2006, the country carried out its internet activities mainly through VSAT. Still, most people in the country do not have access to high-speed internet. In 2009, there was Wimax and for the first time, Bangladeshi consumers had taste of better high-speed internet. Right now, two companies are providing Wimax facilities for consumers. They are Banglalion and Augere and the product name of Augere is Qubee and in this article we will from now on refer to the serviced as just Qubee.
(This entry was written many months ago in another blog. So, some of the information is outdated.)

Life Before Wimax:
I first got taste of using internet in 1997 in British Council, Dhaka. At that time, it was very expensive and there was hardly any cyber café. Things did not move that much until the end of 2001 when cyber café business became very popular in Dhaka. I remember that in 2002, in every part of Dhaka city, there were several cyber cafes. From 2003, people could take internet connections at home from these cyber cafes in their local areas. Big Internet Service Providers (ISP) were not interested to give connections to the ordinary people. The ISPs were and perhaps still are more concerned about the corporate or business clients.
The connections from cyber cafes were not that bad but there was one very big problem. It was not reliable. When it rained or there was an electricity problem in the cyber café, the consumers were forced to suffer. Second problem was that the cyber cafes were very small players and they could not ensure good customer service. For the ordinary users, Grameenphone made a big impact on at the end of 2006 by providing internet service through mobile phone. Later Citycell also joined the market and rapid expansion of internet happened.
Both Grameenphone and Citycell were reliable but their speed was always a bigfactor. That is why, when I got the taste of Qubee in October 2008, at last I felt that my prayers for a reliable and fast internet was at last answered. I have not used Banglalion’s service, but whatever I have heard from the users is good. Because of good speed and wireless connectivity, both Qubee and Banglalion are becoming popular.
Qubee Wimax:
Now, I like to say some few words about the two players. Qubee started its operation on October 21, 2009 and I wrote about its inaugural ceremony here. At that time, there were mainly two packages and it was rather expensive. For example, I can see that Qubee 512 had 512 Kbps speed and download capacity was limited to 6GB and the price was 3400 taka. Anyway, right now, Qubee offers three packages and I am giving the list here:
Monthly Usage Allowance*
Sky **
256 Kbps
BDT 850
BDT 950
BDT 1,250
512 Kbps
BDT 1,250
BDT 1,450
BDT 2,250
BDT 2,250
BDT 2,750
BDT 5,250
 **Fair Usage Policy is applicable for Sky packages.

The initial expense for Qubee is Taka 3,000 for the modem and if you just call them they will come and install the modem at free of any additional cost.
Banglalion Wimax:
On the other hand, Banglalion has seven packages. Three of the packages have unlimited usage facility whether four others have restrictions or limited download. I am giving the full list of package and pricing here of Banglalion:
 Banglalion Packages & Pricing:
Lion infinity*
Lion Starter
128 Kbps
Lion Value
256 Kbps
Lion Value Plus
512 Kbps
Lion Regular
Lion Gold
1 Mbps
20 GB
Lion Mega
2 Mbps
25 GB
Lion Jumbo
5 Mbps
30 GB
Lion student
Lion Student
256 Kbps
5 GB
* Fair Usage Policy Applicable

Banglalion has USB dongle, indoor unit and out-door unit type of connection devices and they have different prices.
Facilities of Wimax
After Wimax has come, it is providing some great facilities for internet users inBangladesh. First of all, for the first time we at home have really high speed internet which is consistent. I do not know about others but I really have hardly any complain against Qubee and one of my students is using Banglalion in another part of the city. He is also totally satisfied with Banglalion.
We are the kind of people who use internet all the time because both of us are professional Bloggers and web-based professionals. So, we need to do a lot of browsing and internet speed is really important for us. Before the arrival of Qubee, I could hardly dream of watching a video in YouTube, but now I can really enjoy YouTube videos and it is not only for entertainment. For example, just yesterday we were writing about the upcoming Apple music event 2010 and we found that we needed to watch a number of videos in Youtube.
It was in fact, in yesterday Mehdi (another blogger of this blog) and I watched at least 20 videos in Youtube. It was simplly impossible before the coming of Wimax at least in my home. Wimax is also quite reliable. Except the submarine cable problems, I hardly faced any outage in the last ten months from Qubee. I am not one of those persons who are crazy for downloading 2GB or 3GB movies for whole night and that is why I hardly face any problem with Qubee. However, if you are one of those persons who are crazy for downloading movies and videos all the time then perhaps Wimax is not a very good option for you as when I bought it they clearly mentioned that Wimax is not for continuous download of videos and movies for large files.
I agree to their idea because as far as I am concerned, internet is still a very important facility in our country and it should be used more for our business and professional activities rather than entertainment and enjoyment.

I earn money with internet as a professional blogger and that is why I do not mind the Wimax charge. However, I have to admit that the price is still some expensive for ordinary people. For example, I want to take a connection of Qubee 1mbps unlimited or sky package, but the price is around 6000 taka (including VAT) per month and it out of my ability. If I could get that package it would have been very good. If that package had a charge of taka 3,000 then I happily would take it.
So, price is still an issue and the two Wimax companies should try to cut back at least 20 percent on the existing charge as soon as possible. However, you have to understand that the decrease in Wimax charge is more or less dependent on the bandwidth charge by the government. I really wish that the government decreases bandwidth charge substantially and brings it to 10,000 taka per Mbps. Another problem is that Wimax facility is not available in most areas of the country. In fact, except Dhaka, Wimax is available only in two or three cities. This has to change as soon as possible.

Wimax has enormous potential in Bangladesh. Dhaka is a very small city with more than 10 million population. Thus, it can become a lucrative market for Wimax companies if they can make the best use of it. On the other hand, Bangladeshi students and young people are now trying their luck in the field of freelance outsourcing. Sooner or later, there will be a huge demand for Wimax. I really believe that Wimax companies should help freelancing professionals who are trying to make their mark and they should arrange or sponsor events especially targeted for the online freelance workers.
Wimax also has potential for people living outside of Dhaka. Most ISPs are not interested to take internet there as it is not economically feasible. However, since Wimax uses wireless technology, small cities and rural areas can be covered quite easily.
The government has an important role to play in this regard. Outside of Dhaka,Chittagong and Sylhet, the private sector has not flourished enough. Government is still the biggest player in the economic activities in most other cities and towns. So, the government should encourage spread of Wimax in small cities specially can arrange Wimax connections to government colleges and schools.

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