Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

A Survey of Internet Access in a Large Public University in Bangladesh

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

A Survey of Internet Access in a Large Public University in Bangladesh

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The article describes the current state of Internet access and its usage in Rajshahi University, the second largest pubic university in Bangladesh. The study used a questionnaire-based survey method to investigate the infrastructural facilities for Internet access and to know the patterns of Internet use in all the 47 departments of 7 faculties, 5 institutes, computer centre, central library and administrative building of the university. Although the university community is deriving some benefits from internet access, the study revealed that nearly half of the responsible authorities of the various sectors are not satisfied with the existing facilities owing to several constraints. On the basis of the prevailing situation, this article suggests future directions for better Internet access in the common interest of the university community.

Keywords: Internet access, ICT, Public University, Rajshahi University, Bangladesh.

INTRODUCTION

Bangladesh, located in South Asia, bordering the Bay of Bengal, between India and Myanmar, is one of the overpopulated, underdeveloped and technologically backward countries in the world. Like other developing countries, Bangladesh was late in introducing Internet technology. The Internet came in Bangladesh through UUCP (Unix-to-Unix copy) email connectivity in 1993 by Pradesta Ltd. and IP (Internet Protocol) connectivity in 1996 (Rahman, 2002). Online Internet service began in June 1996, when VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) was legalized to operate as Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the country's private sector. Since then, there has been much talk about the use of Internet in industry, business, communication, education, research, and in every other sphere of life. But the Internet penetration rate in Bangladesh is as low as 0.2%, compared to Thailand 9.3%, Maldives 5.2%, Vietnam 4.2%, India 1.7%, Pakistan 1.0%, and Sri Lanka 1.0% (Internet World Stats, 2004).

The higher academic institutions of a country are pioneers in adopting and using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). At present, there are 26 public and 54 government approved private universities in Bangladesh, and many of them have Internet access. Only two universities, Rajshahi University, and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet have their own VSATs. Many public universities, like Dhaka University, the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Jahangirnagar University, the National University, Bangladesh Open University, Chittagong University, Khulna University, the Islamic University, etc. have leased lines, while Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, and Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University are connected to the Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP), a specialized project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Rajshahi University, instituted in 1953, is a public university located in Rajshahi Metropolitan City, nearly 300 kilometres from Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. The university is considered the second oldest and largest university in Bangladesh. The University has 303.80 hectares of campus areas, 8 faculties, 47 departments, 5 institutes, 9 affiliated institutes, 11 academic buildings, 16 residential halls, 1,040 teachers, and approximately 25,000 students. (University of Rajshahi, 2006). The university formally launched Internet in April 2000 through a Rajshahi-based local ISP, Three Sons Ltd. establishing a fibre optic backbone-based Local Area Network (LAN). The campus-wide Internet infrastructure was developed under the National Science and Technology (NST) project of the Ministry of Science and ICT, Government of the Peoples' Republic of Bangladesh with total budget of Tk. 2.5 million. The project started in 1999 and ended in 2000. Prior to that the university computer centre started to provide teachers and researchers with only offline email facilities on NWD (Nation Wide Dialling) phone lines connected to ISP servers at Dhaka in 1997, as there was no ISP in Rajshahi till then. …

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