Digital services take off in 2015

Wimax operator looking to launch 4G in a couple of months

digital services

Years of preparation, coupled with unprecedented Internet penetration and network readiness of the mass, paved way for 2015 to take the country to the next level of data services, industry experts have said.

In the new year, the 42.5 million people or nearly a fourth of the population using Internet in the country will get fourth generation mobile telecommunications technology, better known as 4G – the fastest mode of wireless connectivity in the world as of now.

Several mobile operators, who have brought the 64 districts in the country under 3G coverage, have already made the preparations to launch 4G services in the new year.

4G data services are better than the previous ones in the sense that they can transfer very high bit rates of data using entirely Internet-based communications and without having to depend on traditional telephony services.

SM Ashraf Abir, executive member of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) told the Dhaka Tribune: “Over the last two to three years, we got prepared. A lot of products got matured. Now customers can enjoy the benefits…No doubt 2015 is very important from the point of view of offering services. ”

On-line marketplaces, mobile banking and mobile applications are some of the products that he said had attained maturity over the last few years.

4G data services

Long-Term Evolution or LTE, marketed as 4G, is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile.

While the leading mobile operators are gearing up for launching 4G in the country within a month or two, Wi-max operator Bangladesh Internet Exchange Limited (BIEL), under the brand name Ollo, has already installed 4G network in the capital and some other cities.

Ollo’s Chief Technical Officer Md Mizanur Rahaman said they will go for commercial services within a month or two.

For faster service, having a smart handsets is mandatory; but since 3G-enabled handsets are not cheap, the mobile operators have laid out innovative market plans.

“The flourishing of data markets in 2015 will heavily depend on the handset market. From the operators’ side, we are trying to reduce the price of devices, so that everyone can get mounted to the 3G network,” said Munir Hasan, a director of Grameenphone, the leading mobile operator in the country.

Mobile banking

According to available data, around 25 million registered mobile banking customers are currently transacting around Tk323 crore everyday through 519,000 registered agents across the country.

Currently, three out of every four rickshaw-pullers in Dhaka send money to their village homes through mobile banking services which they deem safe and cost-effective, says a study. It predicts that the number is very likely to multiply manifold in the new year.

Dutch-Bangla Bank Mobile Banking

Grameenphone (GP), the leading mobile telecom operator in the country has four priorities for 2015 – education, health, agriculture and financial services – and they are all based on mobile technologies.

“Considering the context of the country, we are emphasising health, education, agriculture and financial services. To succeed, we require active support from and partnership with the government to create the right policy environment and develop the market,” said Md Munir Hasan, a director of GP.

Market leader GP has already introduced the system of paying utility bills such as electricity and gas using its connections. State-owned operator Teletalk has made an arrangement for paying electricity bills for the rural people. Another operator Robi has submitted tender for launching similar kinds of services, sources said.

E-commerce

On December 27, the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) sold some tickets of the highly anticipated Sheikh Jamal versus Busan Ipark match, accepting payments through mobile and the Internet.

Seeing the success of the experiment, the BFF is now planning to do something bigger.

BFF Secretary Abu Nayem Sohag said they are now planning to sell 500,000 tickets for a lottery through mobile and Internet.

For selling tickets on-line, the BFF engaged popular mobile banking service “bkash.”

bkash remittance

In recent times, especially over the last year or so, e-commerce and m-commerce services have developed to the extent that people can now have even groceries delivered to their doorsteps; orders can be placed right from the mobile phones.

Saiful Islam, entrepreneur of on-line store AmarGadget.com, said: “E-commerce will make people’s life much easier in the near future by bringing virtually all kinds of service to people’s doorsteps.”

“Around 500 service-related web portals are currently doing business in the country and the size of the market will be double by the end of 2015,” said Razib Ahmed, president of the E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB). Recently, the e-CAB declared 2015 as the year of e-commerce.

However, Rokon Zaman, a professor of the North South University, is not happy with the government’s digital service offers.

“The private sector is going to take the lead in offering modern services such as mHelath and m-Education; but the channels are not tested for security. After the faster services are launched, disputes may arise. I am sure the government will not have any answer then,” said Rokon Zaman, who is also a digital services expert.

Contacted, State Minister for ICT Junaid Ahmed Palak said the country had achieved more than half of the Digital Bangladesh promise.

“The government is formulating the e-service act for strengthening monitoring. We are also developing hundreds of mobile applications to ensure better services for citizens.

“Several on-line marketplaces have already been developed; they are now buying and selling products and services. Some of them have become really popular. This, I think, will make a difference in 2015,” Palak said.

The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has recently launched a mobile text-messaging system for providing service to driving licence seekers in order to cut down cost and hassle.

Applications

Hundreds of locally developed mobile applications are currently being used by subscribers. With a host of other digital products in the pipeline, 2015 is expected to see a much better pace in the sector, experts said.

These applications are already making lives considerably easier for people, they said.

The government has developed 50 useful mobile applications and launched projects for developing another 500 applications which may be released by mid-2015.

Bangladesh Railway (Train) Ticket Online

GSMA projections

According to a study of the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), the apex global body of the GSM-based mobile operators, Bangladesh will be one of the global powerhouses in terms of Internet penetration by 2020. By then, 39% of the country’s population will be using Internet, making Bangladesh the 10th largest Internet using country in the world.

At present, out of the 42.5 million Internet users in Bangladesh, 12.5 million are using 3G connections, local data suggests.

According to the GSMA, by 2020, Bangladesh will have 66.7 million active Internet users, with only China, India, USA, Brazil, Nigeria, Japan, Russia, Indonesia and Pakistan having more.

Experts said the 120 million current active SIM cards in the country give an immensely strong upper-hand to the sector; the number is already the eight largest in the world. They said the massive usage allows the market players to plan different services models.

In addition to all these, there are more than 10 million Facebook users in Bangladesh. Many different Facebook-based commercial services are already doing good business in the country, which is only likely to expand in the new year.

dhakatribune.com


The Fragmenters is a Bangladeshi website offers news, blogs, views and analysis and covers politics, business, entertainment, environment, technology, popular media, lifestyle, culture, healthy living, women's interests and local news.

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