Freelancers of Modhupur get hi-speed internet

Grameenphone CEO Yasir Azman wears the Garo crown of honour 'kutub'. Next to him is Subir Nokrek. The picture was taken on Saturday at the village Gary in Modhupur.Khalid Sarker

The village Gayra in the forest area of Modhupur upazila, Tangail, wore a festive look from early Saturday morning. Members of the Garo community from 30 villages began to arrive at the Gayra Saint Francis Church. Many Garo youth has even come from Rajshahi, Chattogram and Dhaka. Little children in their traditional costumes added to the touch of festivity.

Many Garo youth in the forest area of Modhupur, led by Subir Nokrek, a young man of the same community, had taken up IT-based outsourcing work as freelancers. But the enthusiasm of these young persons had been somewhat dampened by the weak mobile phone network and the slow internet speed. Now, however, the mobile phone operator Grameenphone has come forward to put an end to their woes.

Prothom Alo's report about these young freelancers and the weak internet connections came to the attention of Grameenphone's CEO Yasir Azman. He immediately took initiative for Grameenphone to set up a temporary BTS (base transceiver station) in the village Gayra of Modhupur. So now a large surrounding area has 4G speed internet access. Even in their mud houses, the villagers are using the internet, which they could only do outside before. And yesterday, Saturday, was the event to celebrate the hi-speed internet access.

Grameenphone initially would provide the scope to talk. Now our goal is social empowerment of the people
Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone

The Grameenphone CEO Yasir Azman reached the village at around 11 in the morning. Garo children received him and the other guests with traditional dances and led them to the yard where Subir Nokrek had started his freelancing work. Yasir Azman held a meeting in the yard with Subir. After that, the guests inspected the Nokrek IT Institute established by Nokrek.

In the afternoon the guests were taken, amid traditional rituals, to the stage set up at the church grounds. Over a thousand people had gathered there, including the young freelancers. The Garo elders placed the Garo crown of honor 'kutub' on the heads of the guests, including Yasir Azman.

Young Garo freelancers make the V sign, celebrating the hi-speed internet connection provided by Grameenphone. The mobile operator's CEO Yasir Azman joins in the celebrations in front of the Nokrek IT Institute in Gayra, Modhupur, on Saturday
Prothom Alo

Yasir Azman said, "Grameenphone initially would provide the scope to talk. Now our goal is social empowerment of the people. Grameenphone has over 80 million subscribers. I am proud and overwhelmed at how meaningful social empowerment has been with the training at the Nokrek IT Institute in the Modhupur forest area."

Bappu Mri, Himalaya Henry Nokrek, Paritosh and several other young freelancers told the Grameenphone CEO that the network in the area had been so weak that they couldn't get connections indoors, not even under the trees. They would have to go out into an open field to send files to their overseas clients. They requested that the mobile tower reach be further extended and a new tower be set up to alleviate their difficulties.

The Grameenphone CEO told them that they would work on the entire area. So far 23 villages had been inspected. There were plans to set up a tower in the area. For the time being, a temporary Grameenphone tower was set up at the village Gayra. He said that they would require permission from the forest department and other concerned authorities of the government to set up a tower in the forest. If the administration extended its cooperation, Grameenphone would establish a BTS tower here so that the young freelancers could use hi-speed internet for their outsourcing work.

Garo girls performing traditional dances on Saturday in Modhupur at the event celebrating hi-speed internet connection in the area
Khaled Sarker

At the event, Subir Nokrek said he had trained and started freelancing in 2017. He earned 75 dollars through his first work as a freelancer. That gradually increased, but he couldn't handle all the work alone. So he trained other young members of his community and started up the Nokrek IT Institute. Now this institute has 5 branches -- in Gayra, Dhaka, Mymensingh, Gazipur and Jamalpur. Over 5000 persons have received training in outsourcing and other matters from this institute.

Subir Nokrek said that after Prothom Alo published the report on freelancing in Modhupur forest and weak internet connections, many people came to know about this. Then Grameenphone took initiative to address the problems.