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Dhaka Tribune

The wheels have come off on mobile internet use in October

User numbers contract from October

Update : 22 Nov 2020, 12:56 AM

Internet users dropped off by 3.7 lakh last month, in what can be viewed as a setback for the Digital Bangladesh agenda that was having a good run for the global coronavirus pandemic as people shifted their day-to-day activities online to avoid catching the lethal pathogen.

At the end of October, the total internet subscribers stood at 11.08 crore, down from 11.11 crore from the previous month but up from 9.4 crore a year earlier, according to data released by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on Thursday.

The drop in internet subscriber numbers in October came entirely from the mobile internet segment.

“The number of our data customers may grow or decrease to some extent in a particular month due to the ongoing pandemic, but our overall recent performance in the data segment has been satisfactory,” said Taimur Rahman, chief corporate and regulatory affairs officer at Banglalink.

At the end of September, the country’s third-largest carrier had 2.1 crore mobile internet subscribers.

A significant number of mobile internet users use multiple SIM cards for data, said Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer at Robi, the country’s second-largest operator.

“The number of data SIM numbers sometimes vary because of users’ preference without affecting the overall data usage,” he added.

Due to the pandemic, Teletalk’s internet subscriber base had shrunk a little as a portion of them had gone to their village where the coverage is low, said the state-run carrier’s Managing Director Mohammad Shahabuddin.

“Our mobile internet user numbers were average before the pandemic. During the pandemic, it reduced a little but now it is increasing as people have started coming back to the cities from the villages,” he added.

Users of broadband internet though surged in October compared with a year earlier, when it stood at 57.38 lakh.

Meanwhile, 9.6 lakh mobile users came on board last month to take the tally to 16.8 crore.

Grameenphone’s subscriber base expanded the increased highest: by 5.3 lakh.

Robi, which is revving up for its stock market debut, added about 2.9 lakh subscribers to take its tally to 5.04 crore.  

“Perhaps the most telling sign of Robi's growing appeal can be found in the fact that 70 per cent of MNP [mobile number portability] users joined Robi network this year from other operators. So the background to the surge in subscriber base is very compelling,” Alam said.

Banglalink saw 1.4 lakh new users in October to take its total subscriber base to about 3.5 crore, down 1.4 per cent from a year earlier.

Teletalk’s subscriber base expanded slightly in October to stand at 46.2 lakh. A year earlier, it had 47.1 lakh users.

The operator has targeted to add one crore mobile and internet subscribers by December 2021, Shahabuddin said.

“In this regard, we are working in different ways -- we are trying to get back our users,” he added.

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