ICT: Bhutanese today has some of the latest gadgets in the field of telecommunications. Junior high school students are seen carrying the latest smart phones.

But a fancy mobile phone is essentially useless without a decent data connection.

In order to catch up with technological advancements in the country, Tashi InfoComm Ltd (TICL) launched the fourth generation of data technology for cellular networks, 4G, which is the latest generation of mobile systems technology, on Saturday in Thimphu.

The 4G services which will be available on Asia-Pacific Telecommunication (ATP) 700 MHz (also Know as Band 28) frequency will be able to provide wide network coverage and good indoor penetration.

TICL’s officials said that with the introduction of 4G services in the country, TashiCell customers can now experience “ultra-high” speed mobile broadband without having to pay premium prices and enjoy high speed internet access on their phones.

Officials said that with 4G in place, there will be less buffering, and customers can enjoy fast downloads and uploads. However, the data rate has remained the same for 2G, 3G and 4G which is slightly more expensive than what Bhutan Telecom currently offers.

4G is an up-grade of the third generation (3G) network, which was introduced by TashiCell in December 2013. By June last year, TashiCell’s 3G services reached all the 20 dzongkhags.

By the end of 2011, three years into operation, TashiCell had 6,000 mobile internet users. By December last year, the mobile internet users increased to 130,000.

After the deployment of 3G services in December 2013, users increased from 3,000 to 114,000 today. According to officials, the total data consumption for the entire year in 2013 was 10 terra bytes (TB). Two years later, in 2015, the consumption grew by 50 times to 500TB.

Information and communication minister, DN Dungyel, during the launch of the 4G service said that the initiative is in line with the vision of the government to have an ICT enabled knowledge society as the foundation for GNH.

“Telecommunication sector in the country has seen a remarkable development,” said the minister. “A lot has been achieved but there is still much more to be done.”

The minister said that ICT and telecommunications has become a necessity for the development of a country, the use of which has enabled and eased many of the working processes.

TashiCell’s 4G services will also be available in Paro and Phuntsholing.

 Younten Tshedup