• APRIL 20, 2024

What is holding back 5G in Bangladesh?

Despite the successful trial of 5G services in Bangladesh, its commercial launch is still pending due to the unpreparedness of the market. 

Guidelines have been formulated, frequencies are ready for allocation, and handsets capable of supporting the service are already being used by consumers. 

However, no one has information about when that market will be ready for the fifth-generation mobile network.

Sheikh Reaz Ahmed, commissioner of the spectrum management division of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC): "We (BTRC) are ready to allocate frequencies. But the market is not ready yet. Before launching 5G, we need customers in the market. A demand has to be created in the industry as well.”

He added that a huge amount of money has to be invested before the launch of 5G. 
“If the market is not created, this investment will be at risk. The operators have not yet been able to withdraw the investment they had put for 4G services. In such a situation, there is no reason to risk another investment.”

The official also highlighted that 4G services in Bangladesh have not yet reached full capacity, with customers frequently expressing dissatisfaction about its quality. “Hence, many things have to be considered.”

In the aims and plans of the government's “Election Manifesto 2018”, it was promised that 5G would be launched by 2021-23. However, despite the onset of 2024, there has been no initiative to launch 5G commercially in the country.

Association for Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) Secretary General Lt Col Mohammad Zulfikar said: "BTRC has recently published the 5G policy. We believe that the government will now determine the next steps and give instructions after considering other necessary factors for preparing specific markets and the 5G rollout.

He further said that currently, operators in Bangladesh can deliver the required internet speed for general consumers to use. 

“However, 5G has the ability to significantly transform industrial production processes and factory operations. Moreover, comprehensive technical preparedness involving all stakeholders is essential before introducing new technologies like 5G,” the official said.

The successful test of 5G services was conducted in the capital's Sonargaon Hotel on July 25, 2018.

At that time, the maximum speed of 5G was recorded at 4.17 gigabits per second or Gbps. On December 12 of the same year, mobile phone operator Teletalk launched 5G service in six places in the country on an experimental basis.

On the other hand, Grameenphone conducted a successful 5G trial on July 26, 2022, and Robi on September 28, 2022, followed by Banglalink. 

The committee formed to complete the entire process of making the outline of 5G was given time till January 31, 2020. 

It was expected that a draft outline would made before the final version. However, the guideline or outline has only been recently completed.

During this whole process, concerned government officials had said that 5G services would be launched in Bangladesh by 2021. 

According to that outline, 5G services were supposed to start in Dhaka, and reach the divisional cities by 2023, and union level by 2026.

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