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Cost of Internet Likely To Go Up If Proposed Increase In The Licence and Annual Fees For ISPs Comes Into Effect, Explained

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has made a set of new recommendations which, if comes into effect, will increase the cost of internet service providers significantly eventually driving up the cost of internet in the country creating extra pressure on the end users. Let's take a look at the proposed changes:

  • Internet service providers will have to share total 2 percent of their gross revenue with the BTRC - 1 percent with the regulator and another 1 percent for a social obligation fund
  • The new license and annual fees have been proposed to be set at BDT 25 lakh and BDT 5 lakh respectively. The existing cost is BDT 1 lakh for each nationwide license.
  • The newly proposed zonal license fee is BDT 15 lakh which is currently BDT 50,000 only.
  • The proposal also suggests all internet service providers, 590 of them, of the country will have to pay the new license fee to renew the licenses
  • The most interesting one, however, is, Cyber cafes with trade licenses will not have to notify the regulator before starting a business which was mandatory before. This came in a time when future of Cyber Cafe business grim at best.

According to the industry insiders, if come into effect, these changes will have a seismic effect on the internet price in the country. It will drive down the quality and will make internet connections costly.

Many suggest this is starkly in opposition to the idea of digital Bangladesh which proposes greater accessibility to technology. MA Hakim, president of Internet Service Providers' Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB), told the Daily Star that, “to bear the increased cost, the operators may have to compromise with the service quality or put pressure on the end users.”

The policy making has always been a complicated matter in Bangladesh. There often is some disconnect with the reality. While intentions may be noble, these sort of changes may lead to chaos and extra pressure on the users.

However, as usual with any policy that draws public attention, this may as well change, to some degree, in favor of the users. As BTRC chairman Mr. Shahjahan Mahmood already hinted to the Daily Star saying that “recommendations will be reviewed if they see the new rules are increasing the cost of the end users”. Which means still there is room for change and these are just recommendations.

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