Our country is extraordinarily affordable to live in compared to any Westernized countries that Bhutanese are interested in. Australia, the United Kingdom, and the USA all have one thing in common; their cities have astronomical rent. In the UK, a monthly rent ranges from Nu. 50,000 for a single room. Now that’s unimaginably expensive in Bhutanese context. But there is one commodity in Bhutan that is even more expensive than UK’s house rent; the broadband internet. And our country is heavily disadvantaged by it. Let me explain in a few passages below.


The price comparison

Both TashiCell and Bmobile provide an unlimited-data leased line plan which is commonly used as household/office wifi. Since the data is unlimited, the cap they put on is for the speed of the internet which is technically termed Bandwidth Range. It is measured in Megabits Per Second (Mbps). It is not to be misunderstood 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 is not only expensive, but it is extremely unaffordable for a typical Bhutanese household. It can only be accessed by offices in Dzongs using the government money.

To be rational, it is not fair to directly compare our price that way to other countries where there are tens of millions of users and also uncountable competitors. But the least TashiCell and Bmobile could do is sell a 100mbps household wifi as an affordable package to Bhutanese households. It will have immense benefit to the people, the community, and the country which I will discuss below.


Is mobile internet not enough? Why do we need a 100mbps household wifi?

Mobile internet is enough for one crucial thing in a Bhutanese society: to use TikTok. I don’t say that TikTok is a bad thing in any way, but if it is all that we care about, mobile internet is fine. Mobile internet is also enough for video calls, even though the internet fluctuation shatters the video call quality and causes the person in the call to appear crooked to the point we forget who the person even is. In short, for a day to day thing, mobile internet is a good option. And TashiCell and Bmobile offer amazing data packages if a user is willing to pay more.

A household wifi is important for some more serious things such as:


  1. Education

I would never defend that education through the internet can replace traditional classroom education. There is a lot that a student learns by sitting in a classroom. But there are some areas in which education through the internet can go far beyond the reach of classroom education. In a classroom, a student can learn one 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 confined within a curriculum and can go all the way from Maths and Science to Software Programming and Filmmaking, Arts and Crafts to Philosophy and Creative Writing. The perks are that the student can choose the teacher and can learn at their own pace. The extra perk is that the education through the internet can be completely free. The only payment is for the internet itself.


  1. Career

Bhutan produced only a countable number of people who go beyond Bhutan in their pursuits. Pawo Choying Dorji reached the Oscars. Chencho Gyeltshen plays for teams outside Bhutan. And there is Pinda Rika Dorji (alias PindaPanda) who plays international online gaming. If PindaPanda played with mobile internet in Bhutan, her skills in gaming would be all shoved down by the internet itself. In one of her interviews, she mentioned about the space for improvement in Bhutan’s internet service. A mobile internet can average around 10 Mbps and for gaming, a reliable internet required is at least 25 Mbps 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 youth, can truly explore and build their career.


  1. Web 3.0

We are aware about cryptocurrencies, NFTs, Artificial Intelligence and other technologies that the world is being introduced to every single day. Those things will require an insane speed of the internet to be well utilized. We can make do with slow mobile internet but that will only add on to the already backward we are in these modern technologies.

The mobile internet that they are used to will never be sufficient to go beyond social media. It is not reliable to do any of the things that are mentioned above; the more important things.


How does it impact the country and its people?

These choices 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 are hoping that we can host people from anywhere around the world in Gelephu Mindfulness City. But imagine that they are expecting living standards to be easier in Bhutan than anywhere else in the world and find out that to have a reliable wifi in their houses will cost them their fortune. It will be a basic necessity for them like chili in our curries.

Well, there are far more things in Bhutan more important than a mere affordable internet service in a household. Our agriculture needs help. Our road connections in Eastern parts of the country need help. But if we can provide affordable and fast household internet, maybe the youth that grows up using that internet might accelerate other areas that our country needs help in.

Providing an affordable household broadband internet will also not cause a lesser number of 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 provide us with what we asked for all the time. But this request to provide affordable household broadband is nothing that two of the telecoms cannot do. And hopefully, the two Internet Service Providers will have the same dream as ours. Together, we might be able to make small changes towards nation building. Until then, we will hope.


Contributed by

Karma Drupchu