The number of smartphone users in Bangladesh will increase to 63% by 2025 from 47% last year, according to the latest report of the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA).
The subscriber penetration rate was 55% in 2021, which will be 59% by 2025 in Bangladesh, said the report titled "The Mobile Economy Asia Pacific 2022.
Mobile broadband networks currently cover around 96% of the population in the Asia Pacific region, which is a testament to operators' investment in mobile networks, especially the fifth generation (5G) infrastructure, according to the report.
However, just 44% of the population (1.23 billion users) are using mobile internet services.
The report attributed the reasons for this discrepancy to the lack of digital skills, affordability, and online safety concerns.
Some 14 markets in the Asia Pacific have launched 5G commercial services, with at least 10 more to follow before the end of 2025, including Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Mobile technologies and services continue to make a significant contribution to Asia Pacific's economy, generating 5% of GDP in the region in 2021, which equates to around $770 billion of economic value.
The report reveals that mobile internet, including 3G and 4G services, raised approximately 8.8 million jobs in 2021 and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with around $80 billion raised through taxation.
By the end of 2025, Bangladesh's two neighbouring countries – India and Pakistan – will respectively have 84% and 74% of smartphone users out of their total mobile phone users, which is significantly faster than Bangladesh, the report says.
India is one of the top three smartphone markets in the Asia Pacific with 1 billion users. The other two countries are Indonesia and Japan.
More than 83% of mobile phone users in the Asia Pacific will have smartphones by 2025.
Though the projection for Bangladesh's smartphone adoption rate increased compared to the previous year, the previous projection of the country's 5G network coverage remained the same at 6% by 2025.
Bangladesh entered the 4G era in February 2018, but only 37% of its users adopted the high-speed network by 2020. In 2025, 60% will embrace 4G networks, according to the report.
However, the number of mobile internet users is still very low in Bangladesh, and about half of the population remains unconnected to a mobile network, partly owing to mobile taxation.
In 2019, the total tax contribution of the mobile sector, amounting to Tk119 billion ($1.4 billion), represented about 44% of total sector revenue.