Mobile phone users decline, half the population has no internet access

People look at their mobile phonesFile photo

The number of mobile phone users aged over 15 declined in the country over the past three years while nearly half of the population lacks access to the internet, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).

This picture was revealed by the report titled ‘Bangladesh Sample Vital Statistics-2023’ published by the BBS on 26 March.

Mobile phone users who are over 15 declined to 74.2 per cent in 2023 from 74 per cent in 2020, but mobile phone users aged over 5 rose by 0.2 per cent during this period.

Forty-two per cent of people have access to mobile phones in urban areas and 71 per cent in rural areas. Sixty-three per cent of women have access to mobile phones in 2023, which was 63.3 per cent in 2020 while more than 86 per cent of men have access to mobile phones, which was 87 per cent three years ago.

Data show that the number of mobile phone users declined during the coronavirus pandemic in 2021, but rose slightly in 2022 and 2023.

According to the BBS report, internet users aged over 15 crossed 50 per cent, which was 43 per cent in 2020, 43.7 per cent in 2021 and 45.5 per cent in 2022 while 58 per cent of men and 42 per cent of women have access to the internet in the country.

More than 62 per cent of people use the internet in urban areas and over 46 per cent in rural areas, but a little over 38 per cent of women have access to the internet.

BM Mainul Hossain, professor at the Institute of Information Technology, University of Dhaka, told Prothom Alo nothing improved at the foundation despite the huge investment of the government in the information communication and technology (ICT) sector.

He further said the number of mobile phone users declined instead of rising. On the other hand, the government has undertaken many projects to reach internet connectivity in remote areas. Such a scenario is not acceptable after these investments.

There is a wide gap between women and men, as well as in urban and rural areas, he said adding that connectivity was one of the pillars of building Digital Bangladesh, but half of the population remains out of internet coverage.