Slow Band

Standing left to right – Mr. Dinesh Jebamani (Chief Manager Liability Product Management and New Age Media – Seylan Bank), Mr.Sudesh Peiris (Senior Manager – Digital Banking Channels – Seylan Bank), Ms. S.Senevirathne (Representative of the Revenue Department – Western Province), Mr. Tilan Wijeyesekera (Deputy General Manager – Retail Banking – Seylan Bank) and Mr. Malik Wickremanayaka (Deputy General Manager – Operations – Seylan Bank)

Sept 16, 2007 (AFP) – Home to some 1.5 billion people, South Asia is paying a high price to access the Internet as service providers have been slow to deliver cheaper broadband connections, analysts say.

The region has embraced telephones, mobile phones and computers and India has a flourishing software and outsourcing industry, noted industry watchers at the first South Asia Broadband Congress here earlier this month.

But South Asia has lagged behind in hopping onto the broadband bandwagon, observed Sanjay Gupta of India’s Midas Communication Technology.

“There’s not enough local language content and affordable connections. Currently, broadband penetration is very low — estimated to be less than three percent in the region — and it boils down to cost,” Gupta said.

Home users in Pakistan pay the most in the region, with annual broadband prices of 2,660 dollars, followed by Bangladesh at 2,066 dollars, according to Colombo-based LIRNEasia, a regional telecom think-tank.

The same service costs 242 dollars in Sri Lanka, 223 dollars in India and 112 dollars in Maldives, said researchers at LIRNEasia, who are studying reasons for poor broadband penetration in South Asia.

In Mar