Only 26 lakh mobile phone users have embraced 4G technology since its rollout nine weeks ago although top operators expanded network robustly on the expectation of bringing more customers under the fourth-generation service quickly.
Despite the tepid growth, Robi yesterday celebrated reaching a milestone of 10 lakh 4G users.
Market leader Grameenphone said the number of its 4G customers is about 10 lakh and Banglalink said its users of the new service crossed five lakh recently.
But the pace at which the customers are embracing 4G has not been satisfactory, said operators.
Robi has brought 4,440 sites under the faster mobile data coverage in 420 upazilas.
GP upgraded nearly 2,000 sites and Banglalink 1,800 sites to offer 4G services.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission awarded the 4G licences to the three operators on February 19.
Operators said they are expanding network very fast but customers are not willing to convert their 3G SIMs to take the new service.
As of February, there are 7.75 crore active mobile internet connections in Bangladesh. Of them, 6.35 crore enjoy 3G services, while only 3.23 percent are now using 4G on their phones.
Mobile phone operators have invested about $1 billion to roll out the 4G network so far but the response is not satisfactory, said TIM Nurul Kabir, secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh, recently.
The non-availability of cheaper 4G-enabled handsets is standing in the way of 4G.
Operators have demanded a tax cut levied on 4G handsets to make the service viable. There is about 30 percent tax on imported handsets.
Only 10 percent handsets in Bangladesh are 4G-enabled, according to industry people.
Speaking at the celebration, Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, chief executive officer of Robi, hailed the milestone as a significant achievement for the company.
Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar, State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak, Telecom Secretary Shyam Sunder Sikder and BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood were present.