The onset of 4G mobile services in Bangladesh has failed to capture the public’s imagination the way 3G did when it was announced.
One of the reasons for that is the fact that Bangladesh has yet to experience the full benefits of 3G itself.
“The 3G network has an average speed of 3.75Mbps in Bangladesh while the global average is 20 Mbps. The newly launched 4G network will provide an average speed of 7Mbps, which is far below the global average speed of 3G,” said AMB Hasan, chief engineer at Safara IT.
“The operators should be updated in their technology before they offer these services, he added.
Another reason 4G has failed to garner much attention is because consumers think the cost of mobile internet will go up exponentially, especially for light internet users.
“I think if I upgrade to a 4G SIM then the mobile operator will charge more for my internet package. I am a light user and I do not need that kind of speed,” said Sohel Talukder, an officer at Sonali Bank.
“I thought, if I converted my SIM into 4G, it would cost me more data, which will accelerate my internet cost,” he added.
However, mobile operators said that the 4G internet packages will cost almost the same as the current 3G packages.
“We will not raise the prices of 4G internet packages, it is just the speed of the internet that has changed. So now people can stream videos faster and upload things faster too. If a user consumes more internet because of faster speed then it will cost more,” said Ekram Kabir, vice-president of communication and corporate responsibility at Robi Axiata Limited.
Most people have not gotten their existing SIMs replaced with 4G SIM cards yet. According to BTRC, the total number of mobile phone subscriptions is around 145 million as of January this year, out of which 75 million subscribers use internet on their mobile devices.
Grameenphone's mobile phone subscriptions is around 66 million, according to the BTRC, but only 7.2 million of their subscribers have switched over to 4G SIM cards.
Grameenphone has the lowest number of 4G SIM replacement numbers Robi and Banglalink.