Internet access in Bhutan
Exploring the Growth and Challenges of Internet Access in Bhutan
Bhutan, a small landlocked country nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, has been experiencing a rapid growth in internet access in recent years. This growth has brought about significant changes in the lives of its citizens, as well as presenting challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure that the benefits of the internet are fully realized.
The growth of internet access in Bhutan can be attributed to a combination of factors, including government initiatives, private sector investments, and international support. The government of Bhutan has made it a priority to develop the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, recognizing the potential of the internet to drive economic growth, improve public services, and promote social development. In 1999, Bhutan became the last country in the world to introduce television and the internet, and since then, the government has been working to expand access to these services.
Private sector investments have also played a crucial role in expanding internet access in Bhutan. Mobile network operators have been particularly active in this regard, with companies such as Bhutan Telecom and TashiCell investing heavily in the expansion of their networks. As a result, mobile internet penetration has grown rapidly, with the number of mobile broadband subscriptions increasing from just over 100,000 in 2012 to more than 600,000 in 2019, according to data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
International support has been another important factor in the growth of internet access in Bhutan. The World Bank, for example, has provided funding for the development of the country’s ICT infrastructure, including the establishment of a national data center and the expansion of broadband networks. In addition, organizations such as the ITU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have provided technical assistance and capacity-building support to help Bhutan develop its ICT sector.
Despite these positive developments, there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure that the benefits of the internet are fully realized in Bhutan. One of the main challenges is the digital divide, which refers to the gap between those who have access to the internet and those who do not. In Bhutan, the digital divide is particularly pronounced in rural areas, where internet access is often limited or non-existent due to a lack of infrastructure and high costs.
Another challenge is the issue of digital literacy, which refers to the ability of individuals to use the internet and other digital technologies effectively and safely. According to a 2018 report by the UNDP, only around 40% of Bhutan’s population is considered to be digitally literate, with significant disparities between urban and rural areas. This means that many Bhutanese citizens are not able to fully take advantage of the opportunities offered by the internet, such as access to information, online services, and e-commerce.
Cybersecurity is also a growing concern in Bhutan, as the country becomes more connected to the global internet. In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of cyberattacks targeting government websites and other critical infrastructure, highlighting the need for stronger cybersecurity measures and greater awareness of online threats.
In conclusion, the growth of internet access in Bhutan has brought about significant changes in the lives of its citizens and has the potential to drive further economic and social development. However, there are still considerable challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure that the benefits of the internet are fully realized. By continuing to invest in ICT infrastructure, promoting digital literacy, and strengthening cybersecurity, Bhutan can overcome these challenges and harness the power of the internet to improve the well-being of its people.
Marcin Frąckiewicz is a renowned author and blogger, specializing in satellite communication and artificial intelligence. His insightful articles delve into the intricacies of these fields, offering readers a deep understanding of complex technological concepts. His work is known for its clarity and thoroughness.