Cost of internet use set to go down
The latest BTTB tariff rate is one fourth of that the ISPs now pay to foreign internet exchange providers. But despite such a cost relief, the ISPs will not be able to reduce more than 10 percent of the charges for internet users. This is because the ISPs will continue to maintain the services of foreign internet exchange providers for the next few months, according to the ISPs.
"The customers will enjoy the full benefit of the submarine cable within 3-4 months. The cost of internet use will then go down at least by 50 percent," said Ershad Shafi Chowdhury, secretary general of the Bangladesh ISP Association.
"The BTTB does not have a backup system to complement the submarine cable. That is why the ISPs will have to continue to depend on foreign internet services," he said. "But the BTTB has taken up an initiative to install a backup Vsat (Very small aperture satellite) and, hopefully, this will start operating within 3-4 months."
The country has about 5 lakh internet users at present. With the arrival of the submarine cable, this number is expected to shoot up dramatically. "We really can not predict how fast the consumer base will grow. But this is going to grow in significant pace," observed Ershad.
Meanwhile, many ISPs in Dhaka have already started using the submarine cable even though an appropriate cable infrastructure is yet in place. They are providing speed up to 2 megabyte per second (MBps).
The ISPs are expecting the BTTB to reduce its tariff structure further, said Ershad. "The BTTB has just launched the operation of submarine cable and it is still not sure about the market response. We believe the market response will be great, which will encourage the BTTB to lower the tariff rate further."
The BTTB tariff rate for internet connection below 2 MBps through the SMW4 submarine cable is as follows: registration fee- Tk 20,000, installation and testing fee- Tk 75,000, modem charge for 128 Kbps- Tk 84,000 (lifetime & optional) and yearly rental charge Tk 21,000 (if modem provided by the BTTB). For 192 KBps to 1 MBps the lifetime charge is Tk 126,000 and annual rental fee Tk 31,500, and above 1 MBps lifetime charge is Tk 231,000 with annual rental fee of Tk 57,750.
Call centres and software exporters can rent half circuit 64 Kbps facility for Tk 151,200 and full circuit for Tk 272,160 for a year. General users may avail the same for Tk 201,600 and Tk 362,880 respectively.
The tariff rate for ISPs through satellite for 64 Kbps half circuit is: registration fee- Tk 20,000, installation and testing- Tk 120,000, for 64 Kbps & 128 Kbps the lifetime modem charge (optional) Tk 84,000 and Tk 21,000 rental (if modem provided by BTTB). For 192 Kbps to 1 Mbps, the lifetime modem charge is Tk 126,000 plus an annual rental of Tk 31,500. For speed above 1 Mbps, the lifetime modem charge is Tk 231,000 plus an annual rental of Tk 57,750.
The BTTB circular said that the customers are barred from sharing or further leasing out of bandwidth. The Internet Private Leaseline Circuit (IPLC) is disallowed to terminate calls. Besides it added some terms and conditions on the use of voice-based application.
"If any illegal transmission of voice is detected in IPLC, a penalty of Tk 350,000 will be added to 64 Kbps half circuit annual charge... if the customer is a licensed operator, in addition to this penalty, respective clauses of Telecom Laws will also be applicable," the circular stated.
The 10-page circular also laid out cost structure for leased line, long-term connection, and different types of clients.