The free WiFi service, which the government launched in Cox's Bazar on 15 February, 2020 spending Tk3 crore with the hope to boost tourism in the area, has been unavailable for the last more than 10 months.
During the inauguration of the project by State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Junaid Ahmed Palak, it was said that some 8,000 users would be able to enjoy free WiFi at a time.
In addition to the beach area, 74 20-Mbps high speed bandwidth routers were installed in 35 residential areas in the city. It was told that each router could provide Internet services to about 100 people at once.
The reality, however, is different from what was pledged.
Local people say the WiFi network called "Digital Bangladesh" fails to connect devices to the Internet. Many have expressed dissatisfaction and blamed the authorities concerned for a lack of supervision and maintenance.
Biplob Munna, 22, a student of Cox's Bazar City College, said, "We hang out with friends every evening at the Jhautola and Holiday junctions. But I have never been able to use the free WiFi. Even if some phones get connected to the network, the Internet is extremely slow."
The free Internet service was a project of the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) implemented by Amra Network Limited.
Under the project, Madhusudan Chandra, of BCC, said 200 routers had been set up in Cox's Bazar and Sylhet at a cost of Tk3 crore.
Asked about the slow connectivity, Assistant General Manager of Amra Network Mahmudun Nabi Chowdhury said, "We are aware of it. Sometimes, it depends on devices being used."
Hasanuzzaman, assistant project manager of Amra Network Ltd Cox's Bazar, said, "We have had some technical problems since the beginning. This problem increases every time there is a power outage. Right now, there are 65 devices in operation in Cox's Bazar."
Amra's one-year contract with BCC ended and the company has handed over the responsibility of the project to Cox's Bazar Development Authority. "However, as it is yet to assign any other organisation to take charge, we are continuing to provide services," Hasanuzzaman added.
On the other hand, Wasif Kabir, who oversees the project on behalf of Cox's Bazar Development Authority, denied the handover of the project.
"As the local authorities, we will oversee the project, but since it has not been transferred to us yet, we cannot control anything. But we have asked Amra Network to ensure proper data connectivity," Kabir said.
He also claimed that Amra Network was charging about Tk60,000 per month for the service.
Both Bangladesh Computer Council and Amra Network refused to comment on it.