July 06, 2004

The SMS revolution and Bangladesh

Bangladesh has probably the lowest teledensity in the world as there are only about 2.3 telephones per 100 people. Almost 60% of the total telephone lines are provided by 4 Private cellphone operators (3 GSM & 1 CDMA).

After the proliferation of cellphones, the world has seen a revolution in personal communication - The SMS (Short Message Service). Because of its low cost thanks to the wide network of the cellphone (across the borders) providers, it has become a popular way to communicate. Even in neighboring country like India, SMS use is tremendously high among the cellphone users.

But in Bangladesh, the situation is still primitive. There is no craze for SMS because of a fault with the providers. All the cellphone providers give SMS privilege, but the problem is that their is no interconnectivity with the users. For example subscriber of A provider can send SMS to any subscriber of Provider A, but not to any subscriber of Provider B & C. This is because of a dispute between the providers on the issue of revenue sharing. The technology is there but the intention is not. Only yesterday two providers have agreed to share SMS between their subscribers. It personally don't encourage me because I use a cellphone of another provider.

Now is it a disadvantage or a blessing for the Bangladesh cellphone users? Daniel Brett has written this interesting article about how the SMS fever is changing the English language.

There is a new form of English known as txt is evolving. Dan tells:

In the language of txt, the writer eliminates all vowels, replaces certain syllables with numbers, abbreviates all words over two syllables and in some cases words are completely eliminated and replaced by "emoticons" - hieroglyphics that suggest emotions. With just a limited number of characters allowed in text messages, this new abbreviated form of English allows mobile phone users to pack in as many words as possible in the fastest possible time.


"Bt my Ps wr so {:-/ BC o 9/11 tht they dcdd 2 stay in SCO & spnd 2wks up N."


"But my parents were so worried because of the terrorism attack on September 11 that they decided we would stay in Scotland and spend two weeks up north."

Outraged by the transformation of English language to "gibberish", he states the ultimate scare:

Texting is not a passing phase in the technological age; it is here to stay.

And Bangladesh is still lagging for better or for worst.


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