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6 August, 2015 00:00 00 AM
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Although it could do much more, still availability of online Internet service is helping significant positive changes in the country. The benefits for business communications, both with respect to cost savings and speed, are noteworthy

Use of and access to ICT are improving

Akmal Hossain
Use of and access to ICT are improving
A data entry firm in Dhaka

The Geneva based United Nations Agency for Information and Communications Technology  used to publish an annual report on the state of information and communication technology (ICT) involving  a large number of countries to show their comparative positions. The last such report based on findings in 2008 found Bangladesh 137th in a list of 159 countries. The Global Information Technology Report 2013 prepared by the Global Economic Forum ranked Bangladesh 114th among 144 sampled countries suggesting a clear improvement of Bangladesh in ICT and related fields.  
It is true that before 2008, the use of the Internet was cumbersome and costly as Internet service providers (ISPs) gave connections to individual subscribers through VSAT.  But the country’s connection to the submarine cable revolutionized the situation with  much faster performance at the individual  and institutional users’  levels  in recent years as well as the falling costs for such connections.
The access to Internet connections has become even better recently after the introduction of wireless technology giving Internet connections without wires. Besides, data entry operations for overseas customers and production of softwares indigenously both for local and foreign users, have been rising particularly fast in recent years.
Although it could do much more, still availability of online Internet service is making significant positive changes in the country. The benefits for business communications, both with respect to cost savings and speed, are noteworthy.
Families with members staying abroad are welcoming the Internet for frequent and cheaper communication.
Researchers are getting valuable information quickly at modest cost, which was not possible before.
A  private company source stated that  its monthly e-mail bill and other costs related to accessing information or extending information  have been much reduced  with the latest positive developments in respect of Internet use in the country.
The company would never consider such communications over faxes or phones. Other business houses and entertainment stars are gradually coming to accept the Internet as their ultimate communication tool. The ISPs are carrying out special promotional activities to provide Web page services.  
A new social class is being created, mainly amongst the young generation who find the Internet an effective tool for their career development and the globalization of their thoughts and creativity. Many Internet users have stated that a whole new world has been opened to them, they are getting a new source of knowledge, and they are also making relations with many good friends and organizations worldwide. But the saddest news is that Bangladesh has yet to set up an academic network to provide Internet access to the large number of university teachers, students, scientists, and researchers who play vital roles in building a better nation.
For Bangladesh, the priority should be to provide Internet access to academic institutions and to the intellectual communities.  It is also very important to take further steps to decrease the costs of Internet   use. For example, industry leaders have been calling for reducing the Internet bandwidth price from Taka 18,000 to Taka 7,000 which they say can make broadband accessible at Taka 300 for common people. Government’s
policy response is required to this end.
It is clear that high service charges by ISPs which again is connected to higher purchase price of bandwidth, a   telecommunication policy of the government that leaves much scope for further improvement, and low buying power of potential clients are major barriers to much greater Internet use.
Government through rapid privatization of the telecommunication sector may remarkably enhance the speed of renovations through open-market competition. Government may introduce lucrative consumer loan policies and may further reduce taxes on computers and accessories to enable people to have their own PCs.

The writer is a contributor to The Independent

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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