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Statement by H.E. Mr. Ahmed Rajiuddin, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications

Respected Secretary General, representatives from around the world, Assalamualaikum & goodmorning. I represent the peoples republic of Bangladesh, a third world country which has formed a democratic government after struggling for two years.

It is a matter of great pleasure and privilege for me to address such a dignified assembly on the event of World Telecommunication Policy Forum. My earnest thanks go to ITU and the concerned agencies of the host country. This is indeed a great opportunity to exchange views on important policy issues that will be helpful for all of us to cope up with the fast changing ICT environment. I am very delighted at the commitment of ITU to connect the world. The ITU focus of achieving equitable communication to everyone is really praiseworthy. The need for analyzing the impact of recession on ICT industry is very rightly pointed out by ITU. Moreover, ITU’s effort to enhance ICT usage in combating climate change and natural disaster will help many disaster prone countries like Bangladesh. The trainings and workshops arranged by ITU have helped us a lot in perceiving the emerging complexities of ever changing ICT world.

Hounourable Prime Minister of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh has declared her vision to build a ‘Digital Bangladesh’ by 2021. To implement the vision, the Government is striving to bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas. 

The first and foremost challenge to materialize our vision would be to ensure overall connectivity at an affordable cost. In Bangladesh the connectivity has grown substantially in recent years; which resulted in a teledensity of 30.66%. Having said that, it is mention worthy that the broadband penetration rate in Bangladesh is not satisfactory yet. However, both domestic and international connectivity is required to increase the internet penetration to a reasonable state. We have issued Broadband Wireless License to three organizations; they are going to launch WiMAX in Bangladesh very soon. We hope that WiMAX can play a very crucial role in bridging the digital divide in Bangladesh.

With the intent to enhance connectivity, we are now emphasizing on the establishment of infrastructures to connect the unconnected. Importance is being given on laying more optical fiber to reach the marginal people of the country. In this regard, we have issued Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) license, to private companies. They would build the telecommunication infrastructure countrywide. The licensee organization will establish fiber connection in order to facilitate the proliferation of broadband internet throughout Bangladesh.

Apart from domestic connectivity, we are also thinking of boosting international connectivity. We are in the process of examining the feasibility of availing terrestrial connectivity along with second submarine cable.
To ensure successful accomplishment of the vision of Digital Bangladesh, a holistic approach is needed and our Government is determined to do that. We suppose, public-private partnerships will probably a key to success in this regard.

We have formulated ‘National Broadband Policy’ with a vision to build a people-centered, development-oriented Information Society, where everyone would be able to access, utilize and share information and knowledge easily and efficiently. We are convinced about creating an environment for the development of access networks and interconnection of networks to spread broadband services throughout the country. We are willing to ensure highly advanced and secure broadband services to the Bangladeshi consumers at an affordable price.
 As we understand that affordability is one of the most important factors in the proliferation of ICT facilities, we have reduced the bandwidth price significantly. In addition to that, we are sincerely pondering on reducing the taxes and duties on ICT equipments in order to benefit people in the long run. To address the affordability issue, we plan to revise the revenue sharing conditions.

Continuous encouragement to new and emerging technologies is a must for flourishing of ICT sector in the context of any country. So, we look forward to promote newer technologies and concepts such as 3G, Next Generation Network (NGN), Long Term Evolution (LTE) etc.

Our government is patronizing the development of Call Center industry in Bangladesh for generating employment and earning foreign currencies. The Call Centers are being provided with licenses at a nominal fee with reasonable revenue sharing holidays.

I would like to conclude my speech here. I welcome suggestions from you which might help us in reforming the ICT policy towards greater benefit. Thank you very much for your patient hearing.
Thank you all.