KT has been collaborating with the Government of Bangladesh, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide a high-speed broadband GiGA network that will aim to enhance quality of life on Bangladesh’s remote Moheshkhali Island by improving public services and enhancing access to information.
The project hopes to provide a replicable model for how information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure can be leveraged to improve life in developing countries.
The Bangladesh GiGA Island Project, labelled “Digital Island” is aligned with the Digital Bangladesh national development strategy, which is part of the “Vision 2021” initiative to transform Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021.
At least a 2 per cent ICT-led contribution to economic growth is expected by 2017, calling for large-scale investment to support and elevate the skillset of the young workforce.
The country’s demographic profile is ideal for achieving “Digital Bangladesh”: the younger generation (18-35) accounts for 65% of the population while Internet penetration and mobile penetration currently stand at 34% and 83%, respectively.
After careful evaluation of factors such as network feasibility and societal value to satisfy relevant socio-economic needs, KT recommended Moheshkhali Island for the GiGA network project. It has a total population of 321,218, and a population density of 900 people per square kilometer. The average literacy rate is 30%, which is below the national average, 50%. Many public institutions such as schools and clinics are poorly staffed.
Beginning in November 2016, KT plans to roll out GiGA Wire (an ultra-high-speed Internet network through existing copper phone lines), GiGA Microwave (5-times improved transmission capacity, over legacy microwave equipment), and GiGA WiFi, in three of Moheshkhali’s unions: Pouroshova, Boro and Choto. Each has a high population density, concentrated public institutions, and low access to network infrastructure, the ideal environment for expanding connectivity and maximizing the use of ICTs.
Four major social priorities were identified in Moheshkhali − Education, Health, Information, and Agricultural resilience (see box below).
“Digital Island” offers an example of how ICTs can contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly, Goals 1 and 2: No poverty and hunger,Goal 3: Good health and well-being, Goal 4: Quality education, and Goal 8: Decent jobs and economic growth.
KT plans to gradually expand broadband coverage throughout Moheshkhali Island, in cooperation with its partners.