GovTech working on Govt pledge to lower data rates

One of the pledges of PDP is to ‘Initiate reduction of telecom charges, such as data charges to 50 percent of the current rate or equivalent to the rates in India.’

The GovTech Agency is working on this pledge of the government, to reduce data charges, and while there are no promises, GovTech Secretary, Jigme Tenzing, said they are cautiously optimistic to reduce charges.

Jigme Tenzing said, “We are looking at multiple areas to see how we can reduce the price. There is no guarantee and it is quite challenging for a lot of reasons. We are working closely with the Telcos (Telecom Companies).”  

The Secretary said that one of the things they are looking at is increasing the utilisation rate of internet to bring down prices.

He said if one compared Bhutan and Nepal, there is of course, a large population difference, but Bhutan uses just 70 GBPS while Nepal uses more than 1,000 GBPS.

The Secretary said once the usage is more than the prices can also be reduced.

He said that there are requirements for more internet in Education through connectivity in classrooms and laboratories. He said the utilisation in hospitals are also low, which can be increased.

The Secretary said the other important issue is that they are trying to encourage more fixed lines for two reasons. The first is that once data prices are reduced, the result will likely be congestion of the network as it is reliant on the mobile towers.

The second reason is that fixed line users will have a dedicated line, and hence much better experience, be it in terms of internet or video chat, etc.

The Secretary said that fixed line users are more in line with a digital society and can be used for commerce and fixed service, like entertainment, etc. He said the mobile network is not suited for that.

He said the rate reduction would lead to higher load and demand on the mobile towers right now, and this is a major barrier to reduce rates too.

He also said that subsidies will be given through the Third International Gateway for operators to improve resilience and reduce redundancy.

The Secretary said that things are moving very fast and there are many options.

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