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Mobile Data Consumption Shoots up, Mobile As A Platform, And Mobile Is Eating Bangladesh Follow-up

Average Bangladeshis are consuming a significantly higher mobile internet data since the launch of 4G in the country in February 2018, according to a report by the Daily Star. The mobile data consumption has almost doubled in the last one year from previously 700MB on an average to 1GB, which is 1,024MB.

Robi, the second largest operator after the Airtel Robi merger, leads the pack in terms of growth in internet usage with 88% growth followed by Grameenphone which saw a 54% growth overall. Robi said its 2.83 crore active internet users, of which 55 lakh are regular 4G customers, consumed about 1,182 megabytes (MB) data on average in the third quarter of 2018. For GP, the average is 1,149MB. GP, the largest operator in the country, has 3.63 crore active internet users, of which 50 lakh are using 4G. Banglalink has two crore internet subscribers who are using 734 MB data on average.

A couple of things deserve attention here:

These numbers are unexciting. Mobile internet consumption is growing pretty fast, obviously, but we are not still done here. According to BTRC, we have about 147 million mobile subscribers. Compare that with the current active internet users, it is minuscule in number

The two periods of the internet age - penetration and building. It means we are still getting started and on the side of penetration, meaning bringing people on the internet. If you divide internet age into two periods - 1) penetration or giving people access to the internet 2) building services and solutions on the internet once there are enough users - we are well on the former period.

Better pricing and better service would make a substantial difference. The other significant aspect is: despite the fact that mobile internet is pretty expensive in Bangladesh and it comes with a lot of hidden conditions and limitations and complex offers that hamper user experience, this rapid growth makes us hopeful. It would make a huge difference if mobile operators really get their acts together and offer a better price and better service.

Building for the existing internet users is no small opportunity. Being said that, although we are not yet there in terms of penetration and have a long way to go to bring all the people on to the internet, building services and products for the existing internet users has already begun. The opportunity is endless there both in terms of scope and what has been done so far. The unprecedented growth in Youtube usage in Bangladesh is a testament to that.

Mobile is eating Bangladesh and a lack of local services.

From our, Mobile Is Eating Bangladesh report:

“Over the past years, Bangladesh has experienced unprecedented growth in mobile phone penetration. () This has implications not only for tech but also for many other industries. People spend an usually high amount of time with their handheld devices. Moreover, mobile allows users to do things on the go. As a result, mobile is changing how we communicate, consume, shop and transact. In the coming years, it will change many other aspects of our daily life.”

We have seen a handful of very successful products that have been built on top of the mobile phone in Bangladesh such as bkash, Pathao, and a few others but there are many more opportunities to explore. If you consider mobile as a platform, which a large group of people is using for accessing the world of internet, it opens up an entirely new world of opportunities.

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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