April 15, 2024

Internet in Bhutan is more expensive than rent in the UK

Living in our country is extraordinarily affordable compared to any westernized country that Bhutanese are interested in. Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have one thing in common; Their cities have astronomical incomes. In the United Kingdom, the monthly rent ranges from Nu. 50,000 for a single room. That is unimaginably expensive in the context of Bhutan. But there is one asset in Bhutan that is even more expensive than renting a house in the UK; Bandwidth Internet. And our country is very harmed by it. Let me explain it to you in some passages below.

The price comparison

Both TashiCell and Bmobile offer an unlimited data leased line plan that is commonly used as home or office Wi-Fi. Since the data is unlimited, the limit they put on it is for your internet speed, which is technically called your bandwidth range. It is measured in Megabits per second (Mbps). Not to be confused with MegaBytes per second (MBps), which I will explain later. The price we have to pay if we want to increase the bandwidth range must be one of the most expensive things in the modern world.

Now Nu. 55,000 for a monthly internet connection is not only expensive, but extremely unaffordable for a typical Bhutanese household. It can only be accessed from offices in Dzongs that use government money.

To be rational, it is not fair to directly compare our price in this way with that of other countries where there are tens of millions of users and also countless competitors. But the least TashiCell and Bmobile could do is sell 100mbps home WiFi as an affordable package for Bhutanese households. It will have immense benefit to the people, the community and the country, which I will talk about below.

Mobile Internet not enough? Why do we need a 100mbps home wifi?

Mobile internet is sufficient for one crucial thing in a Bhutanese society: using TikTok. I’m not saying TikTok is a bad thing by any means, but if it’s all we care about, mobile internet is fine. Mobile Internet is also sufficient for video calls, although Internet fluctuation ruins the quality of the video call and makes the person on the call look crooked to the point that we forget who it is. In short, for everyday life, mobile internet is a good option. And TashiCell and Bmobile offer amazing data packages if a user is willing to pay more.

A home Wi-Fi is important for more serious things like:

  1. Education

I would never advocate that online education can replace traditional classroom education. There are many things that a student learns sitting in a classroom. But there are some areas where online education can go far beyond the scope of in-person education. In a classroom, a student can learn a subject at the pace set by the teacher along with other students. But if a student learns through a place like Khan Academy on the Internet, or even YouTube, the subjects are not limited to one curriculum and can range from mathematics and science to software programming and filmmaking, arts and crafts, philosophy and creativity. Writing. The advantages are that the student can choose the teacher and learn at his or her own pace. The added advantage is that education through the Internet can be completely free. The only payment is for the Internet itself.

  1. Career

Bhutan produced only a considerable number of people who go beyond Bhutan in their activities. Pawo Choying Dorji arrived at the Oscars. Chencho Gyeltshen plays for teams outside of Bhutan. And there’s Pinda Rika Dorji (aka PindaPanda), who plays international online games. If PindaPanda were to play over mobile Internet in Bhutan, his gaming skills would be diminished by the Internet itself. In one of his interviews, he mentioned the room for improving Internet service in Bhutan. A mobile internet can average around 10 Mbps and for gaming, a reliable internet of at least 25 Mbps is required which will cost around Nu. 17,000 per month from both TashiCell and Bmobile. There is a world outside of the mobile Internet that people, especially young people, can really explore and develop their careers.

  1. Web 3.0

We are aware of cryptocurrencies, NFTs, artificial intelligence and other technologies that the world encounters every day. Those things will require incredible Internet speed to be used well. We can settle for slow mobile Internet, but that will only increase how far behind we are in these modern technologies.

The mobile Internet they are used to will never be enough to go beyond social networks. It is not reliable to do any of the things mentioned above; the most important things.

How does it impact the country and its people?

These decisions we make today will have an adverse impact on our country as a whole in the near future. We are all excited about Gelephu Mindfulness City. We hope to welcome people from all over the world at Gelephu Mindfulness City. But let’s imagine that you expect living standards to be easier in Bhutan than anywhere else in the world, and you discover that having a reliable Wi-Fi connection in your home will cost you a fortune. It will be a basic necessity for them like chilli in our curries.

Well, in Bhutan there are many more things more important than just affordable internet service in a home. Our agriculture needs help. Our road connections in the east of the country need help. But if we can provide fast, affordable home Internet, perhaps the young people who grow up using that Internet can accelerate other areas where our country needs help.

Providing affordable home broadband Internet will also not result in fewer people using mobile Internet because mobile Internet has its own place. Its portability is unmatched.

All in all, TashiCell and Bmobile have worked hard to give us what we ask for every time. But this call to provide affordable home broadband is nothing two of the telcos can’t do. And hopefully, the two Internet service providers will have the same dream as ours. Together, we could make small changes towards nation building. Until then, we will have hope.

Contributed by

Karma Drupchu

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