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 has experienced temporary outage of Internet when the government blocked popular social media sites on November 18. It could not skip the watchful eyes of the man who can see the Internet. Here is the visual of Internet outage in Bangladesh.
Myanmar is breathing on Malaysia’s neck in terms of unique mobile subscribers. Its unique mobile subscription is already ahead of Nepal, Sri Lanka and Cambodia – according to GSMA. Nielsen also advises its clients to bet on “rapid up-take of mobile technology” by Myanmar’s youngsters. Repeated outages of Internet, however, stain the country’s digital profile. Doug Madory of Dyn Research compares the situation to closing a highway at rush hour.
Washington Post refers to Doug Madory as, “The man who can see the Internet.” Unsurprisingly he has been monitoring Nepal’s state of Internet since earthquake struck on April 25. Outages of Nepalese data centers, ISPs and enterprises have been graphically diagnosed in Doug’s report. A recent evaluation of Internet infrastructure in South Asia commissioned by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) classified Nepal’s international connectivity as ‘weak’ and its fixed and mobile infrastructure as ‘limited’. While the loss of Internet connectivity pales in comparison to the loss of life, the ability to communicate both domestically and internationally will be crucial in coming days for the coordination of relief efforts already underway.
SEA-ME-WE4, the only submarine cable of Bangladesh, has been down again for 10 days. This outage has affected the business of BSCCL, the state-owned subsea cable monopoly. Doug Madory of Dyn Research, the global Internet performance monitor company, has shared with me the diagnostic image of BSCCL traffic (Click on the thumbnail). Evidently the six cross-border terrestrial operators of Bangladesh have been keeping Internet alive via India. There is, however, a huge risk.
We have discussed the involvement of military and lack of connectivity in Cuba’s prehistoric telecoms sector. This week’s rendezvous of Havana and Washington is expected to make the difference. Doug Madory, Director of Internet Analysis at Dyn, strongly suggests that Myanmar should be the role model for Cuba’s telecoms reform. If the Cuban government is truly committed to opening up greater access to the Internet for the Cuban people, its decision makers should carefully review the case study of Myanmar over the past three years. Like Cuba, Myanmar was considered one the last green fields of telecom – countries with virtually no telecommunications infrastructure.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has the history of not reading the writing on the wall. As the Isis militants advance leaving the trail of massacre, Maliki has bravely picked the mother of all soft targets – the Internet. Doug Madory of Renesys has graphically narrated how the Iraqi government refers “network maintenance” to Internet shutdown. Modern Iraqis, both Shiite and Sunnis, have, however, switched over to mesh network and communicate through an application named FireChat. FireChat was originally developed as a way for people to communicate in areas with poor mobile phone reception, such as underground trains.
Health of Internet depends on the diversity of route and bandwidth providers in a country. Less than a month ago Renesys has diagnosed the health of Myanmar “as being at severe risk of Internet disconnection” along with Syria, Turkmenistan, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Yemen and others. Not anymore! At 19:26 UTC on 8 March 2014, we observed Telenor Global Services activate the first international Internet connection out of Myanmar that didn’t rely on the services of incumbent MPT. At present, Telenor Global Services (AS15932) is only announcing a single prefix from Myanmar, namely, 103.
All submarine cables connecting the Far East with Europe and Africa transit at India. It has made 12 submarine cables (six owned by consortiums and six privately-owned) hopping into 10 cable landing stations (CLS) at the Indian seashore. Voice and data traffic of 27 international long distance operators (ILDO) are processed through the 10 CLS. Four (Tata, Airtel, Reliance and BSNL) out of the 27 ILD providers own respective CLS in India. The ILDOs who don’t own CLS told TRAI that Tata Communication and Bharti Airtel together enjoy a 93% market share.