Villagers turn netizens

People living in the country’s remote areas are enjoying access to internet like the urban dwellers do as part of the government’s 'Digital Bangladesh' initiative placed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2008.

The government has set up Union Digital Centers across the country under the initiative to help the marginal people receive services and earn foreign currencies as well.

“Nowadays, our boys and girls in the Haor areas earn dollars by freelancing from home,” Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar told the media recently.

Data from the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division shows, about 6 million people receive services from 5,865 digital centers in 4,500 unions and 329 municipalities across the country every month.

More than 200 types of Services are available there including registration of births and deaths at, filling up of college-university forms, online job application, getting test results, visa verification, payment of electricity bill, and filling up of passport forms.

Minister Mustafa Jabbar said, “The government is working to ensure digital connectivity to improve the living standards of rural people. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, too, is working to establish a knowledge-based society without a digital dividend.”

Due to expansion of internet as part to the government’s goal to digitalize all services to build a country corruption free, mobile banking services become a blessing for all. If someone owns a mobile, he/she can conduct a financial transection easily for anywhere in the country.

Land system, too, has been digitalized, people living in villages can register online form home or a nearby digital center.

Medical services have gone digital too with the introduction of national telemedicine hotline. The round-the-clock helpline, 16263, received more than 1.23 crore call in the last couple of months. Anyone can avail the advice of an specialists in time of need.

According to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), as of July, the number of internet subscribers now crosses 106.41m in the country. Of those, while internet service providers (ISPs) and Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN have around 4.6 million subscribers in total.

Experts said rise in broadband connections across the country will also increase the number of internet subscribers.

“Internet subscribers has increased significantly in the country due to the coronavirus situation. Telemedicine, video conferencing and online classes in particular have doubled the Internet usage,” said Aminul Hakim, president of Internet Service Provider Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB).

“If the government help us, the number of internet users will increase more,” he said adding there is no alternative to internet to build a “Digital Bangladesh.”

Meanwhile, Minister Jabbar said that telecommunication is not an isolate sector now rather it becomes super highway of digital world and Bangladesh is moving towards this way.

“Telecommunication sector must engage deeply with digital technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) since the Covid-19 shows that telecommunication is the lifeline of the world,” he added.