Bangladesh Cellphone Service Better than Canada

As a Canadian I’m both surprised and sad to report that Bangladesh beats Canada when it comes to cellphone service. I’m writing now from a rural village in Bangladesh (called Madhupur). There is no electricity, no running water, and the diesel generator that was powering a ceiling fan and light bulb died earlier this night. Bangladesh is still a third world country afterall. But, despite all this, I am still able to check my mail, see what’s going on at Digg, and post to this blog.

Bangladesh is one of the few countries in the world that can guarantee each one of its residents can get a cellphone signal – no matter where they are in the country. With a population of over 150 million (over four times Canada’s population) that’s pretty impressive. There are populated parts in the North in Canada that most cellphone service providers don’t bother putting up towers for. Not only can Bangladeshis send and receive calls from anywhere in the country – they can also surf the web on either an EDGE or GPRS network. Part of this has to do with free market competition in Bangladesh and corporate collusion in Canada.

In Bangladesh, there are over 6 nation-wide independently owned cellphone companies competing for your business. In Canada, the cellphone market is collectively owned by 3 national companies. Unlike, Bangladesh, the Canadian barrier for competitors to enter is high as the cellphone industry is regulated by an organization known as the CRTC (kind of like the FCC in America) which limits who can enter the market. This has allowed Canadian cellphone service providers to use collusive business practices to artificially raise the cost to consumers and allow them to be picky about where they will provide cell coverage.

For example, in Bangladesh, I was able to take my cellphone (which I signed up for in Dhaka) and take it four hours out of town. I can make and receive calls without any roaming or long distance fees from anywhere to anywhere in the country. But, my brother in Canada cannot take a Hamilton cellphone to Ottawa without incurring roaming and long distance fees. In fact, Canada, unlike Bangladesh, does not even offer an unlimited flat-rate EDGE/GPRS internet service. The gigabytes of data that I have used over the EDGE network here in Bangladesh has cost me only $20 a month. I am not the only one to point out that Canada’s cellphone service is worse than the Third World’s offerings.

The simple fact is – if I was doing the same project in Canada – cellphone service costs alone would have made this project impossible.

  • http://www.mikeyleung.ca/ Mikey Leung

    Really fascinating post!!!

    It’s true that mobile communications networks offer much greater possibilities in the developing world because this end of the world didn’t need to set up the landline network that we have in Canada.

    Plus, the density of the population makes mobile coverage much more viable and economic alternative to hooking up traditional lines.

    In Canada, the same proposition is simply not cost effective. We have a tiny population spread over a vast area, and as a result we the cost to set up, market and develop such a network are phenomenal.

    I really like what you’re doing. Keep up the posts and I’ll be reading via feeds. You should post a map of where you are at the moment so readers can see…

  • http://www.mikeyleung.ca/ Mikey Leung

    Really fascinating post!!!

    It’s true that mobile communications networks offer much greater possibilities in the developing world because this end of the world didn’t need to set up the landline network that we have in Canada.

    Plus, the density of the population makes mobile coverage much more viable and economic alternative to hooking up traditional lines.

    In Canada, the same proposition is simply not cost effective. We have a tiny population spread over a vast area, and as a result we the cost to set up, market and develop such a network are phenomenal.

    I really like what you’re doing. Keep up the posts and I’ll be reading via feeds. You should post a map of where you are at the moment so readers can see…

  • http://www.thecanadianexpat.com Allan

    I think Mikey makes a good point. The fantastic size of Canada and lack of population density play a big role in our telecom companies’ ability to provide service at a reasonable cost.

    Japan is another example of a really great service. However, one has to remember that they have 10 times the population and 1/27th the geography.

    Nice post tho’. Keep up the good work. If you get a chance come and visit us at http://www.thecanadianexpat.com

  • http://www.thecanadianexpat.com Allan

    I think Mikey makes a good point. The fantastic size of Canada and lack of population density play a big role in our telecom companies’ ability to provide service at a reasonable cost.

    Japan is another example of a really great service. However, one has to remember that they have 10 times the population and 1/27th the geography.

    Nice post tho’. Keep up the good work. If you get a chance come and visit us at http://www.thecanadianexpat.com

  • http://nokian97ohnevertrag.myblog.de/ NokiaN97

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  • http://nokian97ohnevertrag.myblog.de/ NokiaN97

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  • Borno

    While what you said is entirely true (i live in BD, and my brother studies in canada, so i also know both sides of this story), Bangladesh’s awesome cellphone network comes at a cost. of the 6 mentioned mobile service operators, only one is Bangladeshi-based. so a massive amount of our countries money gets shipped abroad everyday to pay the companies abroad that run the services. I’m no economics expert, but do i know that that does have a negtive effect on our national economy.
    Anyway, i love what you are doing. i, as a bangladeshi appreciate the effort.

  • Borno

    While what you said is entirely true (i live in BD, and my brother studies in canada, so i also know both sides of this story), Bangladesh’s awesome cellphone network comes at a cost. of the 6 mentioned mobile service operators, only one is Bangladeshi-based. so a massive amount of our countries money gets shipped abroad everyday to pay the companies abroad that run the services. I’m no economics expert, but do i know that that does have a negtive effect on our national economy.
    Anyway, i love what you are doing. i, as a bangladeshi appreciate the effort.

  • http://cellphonelookupemporium.weebly.com/ Cicely Barbato

    Nice level of information here. There is so much data around about this subject that sometimes you cannot see the wood for the trees but you have pitched this at just the right level so that the lay person can understand – thank you!

  • http://cellphonelookupemporium.weebly.com/ Cicely Barbato

    Nice level of information here. There is so much data around about this subject that sometimes you cannot see the wood for the trees but you have pitched this at just the right level so that the lay person can understand – thank you!

  • LYNN

    I asked CCRT if a cell phone that has no service but is working could be used to call 911. They did not confirm or deny.
    Does anyone know for sure if you can use a cell phone for 911 calls.