Internet service providers (ISPs) are charging more for broadband internet connectivity in rural areas even amid the growing demand during the pandemic, on the pretext of paying high transmission cost for connectivity outside Dhaka through the Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN). Despite the government’s relentless efforts to create technologically advanced “Digital Bangladesh,” the cost for installing a new connection anywhere in the rural areas outside Dhaka city is almost 50 per cent higher.
It is very encouraging to know that the penetration of broadband internet almost doubled in the last one year amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to official data. But unfortunately, the rural-urban disparity has not lessened in the decade of building our desirable “Digital Bangladesh”, and going by the rate of progress the knowledge and technological gap between the rural and the urban population will take far longer than envisaged.We are happy to note that according to the telecommunications Minister, the government has noticed the disparity in pricing for internet connection between the city and rural area and are working to fix a standard tariff for every district. As Bangladesh is a small country of largely plain lands having very little geographical variations, we feel that the internet tariffs should not vary from district to district or even at all within the entire parameter of the country.
The great pandemic has brought to the fore the need for speedy reliable internet connectivity for keeping abreast the world of technology and knowledge. Our dream of a “Digital Bangladesh” naturally presupposes affordable and reliable internet connectivity for each and every village in every district all over Bangladesh. Without affordable and speedy internet connectivity we cannot expect our population in the rural interiors of Bangladesh to be able to keep pace with the ongoing progress in the rest of the country let alone with the world.
Though we know that the great pandemic has been one of the greatest equalisers, but even now it seems that we could not overcome the rural-urban divide in our country. If Bangladesh has to progress at par with the rest of the world, we cannot afford to leave our extensive rural population even a single step behind the urban population.