Internet History of Bangladesh
From Dial Up to Broadband
The history of the internet is not that old even in developed countries. The people of Bangladesh had to remain in the dark about it for a long time because of the non-availability of the service in this part of the globe. The main obstacle to start the service was to have data circuits to a suitable overseas location. However in this condition a few young talents started dialup e-mail service and made it commercially available for public use. In late 1995 the government of Bangladesh invited applications to subscribe the VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) data circuits.
On June 4, 1996 the VSAT base data circuit was commissioned for the first time in the country. Upon VSAT commissioning, internet connectivity was established & its services were made available to the public. After internet was launched, the June 1996 National polls results were made available to the netizens of the world using World Wide Web. This was the first ever usage event of its kind in Bangladesh. The effort was appreciated in many corners especially among the Bangladeshis living abroad.
After the introduction of Internet, the use of email increased exponentially owing to point to point direct transmission. Prior to it dialup links were used to communicate to an overseas e-mail server using international phone calls. The uploading & downloading of mails took place using UUCP (Unix-to-Unix copy).
The introduction of Internet did not instantly create a market. At the end of year, there were only two ISPs in the country and the number of users was close to one thousand only. The year 1997 recorded a tremendous growth. The total number of ISPs was more than a dozen and the clientele growth was ten times higher than that of the previous year. Afterward, a few new ISPs started their venture recording a proportionate growth in number of users. However, more liberal Government policies followed in the subsequent years which led to a rapid expansion of this industry, eventually resulting in over 180 registered ISP’s by 2005. In 2006 Bangladesh got connected to the SEA-ME-WE 4 Submarine cable. After that, many ISPs found the opportunity to connect the submarine cable via Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (Now BTCL). This is the time when number of internet users increased by quite a big margin as bandwidth quality and price became affordable to general individuals. Over the years BTCL reduced the bandwidth price at regular intervals which attract more and more users towards the internet cloud.
As of now, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has about one hundred and sixty six registered ISP license holders and there are approximately Four Hundred and Fifty (450) thousand users connected to them which is about 0.32% of the total population.