It is sad that government suppliers shielded from competitive pressure do not learn, and keep repeating the same mistakes. Our Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan has several comments in this Daily Star piece about the problems with how SEA-ME-WE 5 has been handled by the government companies. Though the task of laying the second submarine cable up to Kuakata landing station in Patuakhali was completed eight months ago for Tk 660 crore, the cable could not be connected to the inland network due to the BTCL’s failure to ensure an uninterrupted inland link. The government announced inaugurating the commercial use of the cable in mid-March. Later, it deferred the date to July 31.
Bangladesh simultaneously exports and imports Internet bandwidth to and from India. Its geographic location and state of international connectivity have contributed to this interesting scenario. The first submarine cable (SEA-ME-WE4) was landed at Cox’s Bazar in 2005. This facility of Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company (BSCCL) has dramatically improved the country’s overall international connectivity. Yet, the industry remained nervous about outages due to maintenance or accidental snapping of SEA-ME-WE4.
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.
Bangladesh will provide 100 Gbps of Internet bandwidth to India. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has planned to deploy cross-border optical fiber cable, which will ensure cheaper wholesale Internet bandwidth to the seven northeastern Indian states. The states of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Naga Land, Manipur and Mizoram are popularly known as the “seven sisters”. India has been struggling with broadband deployment in this region being remotely located from the subsea cable lading stations (Click on the map). Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram are adjacent to Bangladesh while the rest are at closer proximity.