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Bangladesh and India ink historic bandwidth deal

Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited, (BSCCL) has signed an MoU with BSNL as a first step to export IP Transit bandwidth to the northeastern states of India across the eastern land borders of Bangladesh. Initially BSNL will procure 10 Gbps bandwidth from Bangladesh and a three-year agreement will be signed very soon.

This February, the Bangladesh government decided to export the unused internet bandwidth, following a request from India in July last year seeking 40Gbps bandwidth for eight eastern Indian states.

The BSCCL had earlier projected a monthly earning of around Tk4.83 crore ($643,000) from the export of 40Gbps bandwidth; but the MoU for only 10Gbps bandwidth brought down the estimated monthly earnings to only Tk1.20 crore ($161,000). Replying to a query, BSNL’s DP Singh said India was also open to taking connectivity through “tele-transit.”

Undoubtedly “tele-transit” is the most sought after deal for any telecom carrier and it has been business as usual across Western Europe. We have been closely working with ESCAP to break the taboo regarding tele-transit for the sake of affordable broadband in Asia.

Nevertheless, considering both the governments’ notoriously slow bureaucracy, BSCCL and BSNL must be credited for closing the deal in less than a year. It is also significant for another reason. The private carriers of Bangladesh, across the country’s western border, have been buying IP-transit capacity from India. The BSCCL-BSNL deal makes Bangladesh simultaneously the exporter and importer of IP transit capacity to and from the same country, at least, in South Asia.

BSNL will spend US$ 3.4 million to establish and international gateway at Agartala. The Indian state-owned incumbent will also scoop $2.2 million from the Universal Service Fund to augment its networks. Hopefully the citizens of northeast India will be benefited from these investments.

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