In Bangladesh, 41 percent of mobile phone users have a smartphone. This rate is lower than India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and even Nepal. And the reason Bangladesh is lagging behind is high taxes on smartphones.
This picture has come up in a report of GSMA, a global organization of mobile phone operators. The report titled ‘Mobile-Based Digital Inclusion’ was released on Tuesday. The report highlights the use of mobile phones in Bangladesh and various aspects of high speed internet service.
According to the GSMA report, 69 per cent of mobile phone users in India, 51 per cent in Pakistan, 53 per cent in Nepal and 60 per cent in Sri Lanka have a smartphone. And 59 percent of people in Bangladesh are still using feature phones.
However, the coverage of fast fourth generation internet service (Four-G) has increased in the country. According to the GSMA report, at the end of 2020, 95 per cent of the country’s area came under Four-G, which was 69 per cent in 2016. 99 per cent in India, 93 per cent in Sri Lanka, 60 per cent in Pakistan and 85 per cent in Nepal are now under Four-G.
Although India lags behind the 4G network, 48% of Bangladeshi mobile phone users use 2G, 25% 3G and 26% 4G. India is ahead in the use of 3G and 4G. In the country, 6 percent of mobile phone users use high-speed Internet, of which 63 percent use Four-G. 35% in Pakistan, 16% in Nepal and 16% in Sri Lanka use Four-G. In Bangladesh, two-thirds of the people covered by mobile internet services do not use the internet.
According to the GSMA report, the tax paid to own a mobile phone in Bangladesh is much higher than in India and Pakistan. For example, the total cost of mobile ownership (TCMO) in Bangladesh is 35 percent, in India it is 25 percent and in Pakistan it is 23 percent. TCMO is calculated on the price of mobile set, SIM and one gigabyte of data.
GSMA says taxes are a big part of buying a mobile set. In Bangladesh, in addition to value added tax or VAT, there is a duty of 25 percent. Besides, there is a tax of Rs 200 on SIM. Such taxes increase the price of mobile sets suitable for internet use.
The GSMA report in Bangladesh was released at a virtual discussion meeting. It is organized by GSMA and Amtob, an organization of mobile operators in Bangladesh. The Minister of Telecommunications Mustafa Jabbar, Director General of BTRC (Systems and Services) Brigadier General. Nasim Parvez, A2I Project Policy Advisor Anir Chowdhury, Robi Axiata Managing Director and CEO Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, Grameenphone Acting CEO Jane Baker, Teletalk Managing Director Md. Shahabuddin spoke.
According to Amtob, the speakers at the event asked the government for policy support to increase the use of internet on mobile phones in Bangladesh. They say that if people use more internet, it will indirectly have a big impact on the economy. Minister Mustafa Jabbar said that time has shown how important information technology is.