This annual report offers a wealth of information on the Broadband and Internet markets in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. Subjects covered include:
Internet Infrastructure and Developments
Internet policies, models and concepts
Regional and International Networks
Internet Market, VPNs and VoIP
Vision for a National Policy, Government Policies
Network Operators, Wholesalers and Retailers, Utilities Projects
xDSL, HFC, MDS, Satellite, Cable Modems, Cable Telephony
This Asia market report covers 8 countries in the South Asia sub-region. It takes an overall look at the various telecoms markets, together with a particular look at the Broadband and Internet segments in each of the countries. The markets covered include:
Afghanistan After a period in which the Internet was banned by the Taliban, and even government departments were prohibited from going online, Afghanistan has started to be opened up to the opportunities associated with the world wide web. The market remains very basic for the time being. It is not known how many Internet users there are in Afghanistan, although BuddeComm estimated 75,000 at end 2005. There are certainly not many computers in the country, with many areas even having electricity. By 2005, there was a total of 8 ISPs licensed to operate in Afghanistan.
Bangladesh, The Internet came late to Bangladesh with first connectivity in 1996. Over the last few years, growth has been dramatic, although obviously from a very low base. With an estimated user base of more than 500,000 in early 2006, representing only a 0.4% penetration, the local Internet industry is preparing to move into the next stage of its development. PC penetration remains at less than 2%, however. The country’s first broadband service was launched in 2001 using DSL technology. A cable modem service was also offered at about the same time. But, for the time being, broadband services remain a minor component of the country’s Internet market.
Bhutan After a late start, Bhutan has been cautiously embracing the Internet. The Bhutanese Government and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed a project agreement in March 1999 to support the development of DrukNet, the country’s first Internet Service Provider (ISP). There were an estimated 5,000 Internet subscribers in the country at end-2005.
Accurate statistical information on Bhutan is difficult to obtain; there is even a huge variation between sources on what is the country’s population.
India In a country where the IT industry is booming, there is something ironic about its somewhat ambivalent approach to Internet. Whilst there appears to be considerable enthusiasm amongst the population for the Internet, this is not reflected in subscriptions. There were around seven million subscribers to Internet access services in early 2006, the vast majority being dial-up subscriptions. But most significantly, an estimated 60% of users regularly access the Internet via the country’s more than 10,000 cybercafes. When it comes to high-speed broadband access, the slow take up rate has been especially obvious. The country’s corporate sector has been surprising lacking in interest to date. Only about 13% of Internet subscribers in the country have broadband access, corresponding to a depressingly low national broadband penetration of less 0.1%. There were early signs that the broadband sector was about to gain some momentum, however, with the small market expanding by about 200% in 2005.
The Maldives Incumbent Dhiraagu provided the first Internet access in the Maldives when it launched its DhivehiNet service in 1996. Although initially offered only on a dial-up basis, Internet usage has been expanded through the setting up of cyber cafes. Broadband Internet arrived when Dhiraagu introduced its Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) service in August 2002 and by end-2004 the operator had more than 700 ADSL subscribers. Although official figures were not available, by end-2005, there were an estimated 21,000 Internet users in the country.
Nepal The Internet user base in Nepal is estimated at less than 200,000 - a lowly penetration of under 1%. On a positive note, however, the population have been able to access Internet for some of the lowest prices in the region. In the meantime, the licensing of a relatively large number of ISPs, combined with the liberalisation of the VSAT data market, has created excellent conditions for the Internet to flourish in the country.
Pakistan Although Internet access has been available in Pakistan since 1995, take up rates and penetration have remained low. Penetration was at around 3% by early 2006. Following the military regime of General Pervez Musharraf taking control of the country in 1999, an aggressive IT policy has been pursued, aimed at boosting Pakistan’s drive for economic modernisation and creating an exportable software industry. Whilst this has been helping boost the popularity of the Internet, there is a long way to go. Even the existence of more than 150 licensed ISPs has not been having a major effect on Internet growth. The broadband Internet market in Pakistan is almost non-existent.
Sri Lanka's Internet has also started to take off in Sri Lanka, but coverage and accessibility remains limited (Internet user penetration is only 2%) and the sophistication of the services available remains relatively low. The number of ISPs has jumped to 23 over the last few years. Early moves to offer broadband Internet in the country have met with only limited success and it will be some time before there is a viable broadband market.
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