Analysts says South Asia lags behind on broadband

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, quoted by an AFP report, said.

The ADP report said 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, Sanjay Gupta of India's Midas Communication Technology, was quoted by the AFP report as saying.

'There's not enough local language content and affordable connections. Currently, broadband penetration is very low, estimated to be less than 3% in the region, and it boils down to cost,' Gupta, in the AFP report, said.

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

The same service costs $242 in Sri Lanka, $223 in India and $112 in Maldives, LIRNEasia also said.

The AFP report further said In March, India logged 40 million Internet subscribers, which included 2.3 million broadband users, according to India's Department of Telecommunications.

Figures for broadband users in other South Asian countries were not available but officials at the conference said penetration was low, the AFP report further said.