Koreans help BTCL take broadband to the masses

20 Mar 2009

Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) has contracted South Korean telco KT Corp to install a new IP backbone to expand the availability of high speed internet services in Bangladesh, Star Business reports. As part of a BDT2.8 billion (USD42 million) project titled ‘Internet Information Network Expansion’, jointly financed by the Bangladesh and Korean governments, KT Corp will deploy fibre-optic IP backbone infrastructure for BTCL linking six divisions and 17 district towns over 18 months. ‘The project will provide high speed internet access to the mass[es],’ announced Telecoms Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju. South Korean is providing BDT1.7 million in loans for the IP project, or 60% of the total required investment. Residential users will be provided with maximum access speeds of 256kbps over the network, according to BTCL, which added that WiMAX wireless broadband technology would be rolled out gradually in areas where deployment of fibre-optic infrastructure proved unfeasible.

Recent estimates put BTCL’s broadband subscriber base at just 40,000, in a country of 145 million people, which would represent a woefully slow growth rate from the telco’s official reported figure of 26,500 (mostly corporate) high speed customers at September 2007. Total internet users in the country are reported to be approaching one million, up from 450,000 at end-2006. The Internet Information Network Expansion project was intended to be started in July 2006 and completed by June 2009, but a long bidding process delayed its execution.

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