(AFP) – Jun 17, 2008
DHAKA (AFP) — Bangladesh on Tuesday made the use of broadband Internet services free for nearly 40,000 state-run primary schools to boost the number of users in rural areas, the telecom regulator said.
The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) took the move to expand the use of information technology to tens of thousands of villages where 70 percent of the country's 144 million people live, the commission said. The decision makes broadband services free for the state-run 37,500 primary schools and cuts charges by 75 percent for thousands of state-run high schools, colleges, madrassas and universities, it said.
With three million users, Internet penetration in impoverished Bangladesh is one of the lowest in the world.
Samiul Wadud, chief executive officer of BOL, one of the country's largest Internet service providers, said the cut in charges would double the number of users in less than a year.
"It's a major boost for the industry. The government has not only made Internet usage free for primary schools but also slashed the charges of broadband Internet bandwidth by 60 percent for all types of users," he said.
"It will make Internet services affordable and take Internet deep into the rural communities where people hardly have any access to Internet," he said. Bangladesh is one of the world's poorest countries, with nearly 40 percent of the population living on less than a dollar a day.
The country, however, has witnessed large growth in telecommunications in the last few years, pushing the number of mobile phone users to more than 42 millions at the end of May, up from 1.5 million in early 2004.
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