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LIRNEasia in BIMSTEC: Rewriting the Rule Book of Regional Connectivity

The countries in mainland Asia are mostly interconnected through submarine cables. Public and private incumbents abuse their ownership of submarine cable systems followed by hindering competition in wholesale bandwidth sales. As a result, Asia remains impaired by the lack of cross-border Internet connectivity and exorbitant bandwidth prices.

Hong Kong and Singapore are the only carrier-neutral wholesale capacity hubs in Asia. Yet, their prices are higher than the corresponding European and North American outlets. Because submarine cable, which is expensive to deploy and maintain, is the only way to reach these two city states.

One Belt, One Road initiative of China and the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) of UN ESCAP are poised to disrupt Asian incumbents’ dominance over international gateways. This is what I have explained at the 8th BIMSTEC Roundtable Meeting yesterday. My message was clear: Reforming policy to foster competition is the best subsidy the developing Asia’s ICT industry can have.

Thanks to Ambassador Sumith Nakandala, BIMSTEC Secretary General, for inviting me to present Rewriting the rule book of reigonal connectivity. BIMSTEC’s media partner and the country’s first online news portal, bdnews24.com, has covered this event in Bangla and English.

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