News From Telecom World

2nd submarine cable in BD likely by Dec 2008

Posted on: October 22, 2008

The government is likely to issue licence for laying the second submarine cable by December this year aiming to expand Internet network across the country. Officials of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said an alternative submarine cable is aimed at taking Internet to the rural areas.

“We have received 13 proposals for establishment of second submarine cable under private management,” said a BTRC high official.
Another senior BTRC official said steps have been taken for an alternative submarine cable network in the private sector to create a competitive market and take the Internet to rural areas at a cheaper rate. The Internet system in the country is vulnerable to frequent disruption and more so because of its dependence on a single undersea cable network. Also, bandwidth charges in Bangladesh are higher than in neighboring countries. The official said it expected that the second submarine cable line will help reduce the bandwidth charge significantly in Bangladesh. The BTRC official said India’s Tata Telecom, Reliance Communication, Mahanagar Tele-communication, Egypt’s Orascom and Hong Kong’s PCCW are among the contenders for installing the alternative submarine cable. The telecom regulator invited proposals on installation of submarine cable under private management in March this year and set June 15 as the deadline for submission of proposals. But the time was later extended to June 29. The officials said a guideline is being prepared to scrutinize the proposals properly. The Commission, he said, will seek opinions from concerned people through its website. The BTRC will hold a public hearing after scrutiny of proposals. Bangladesh is connected with the “SEA-ME-WE-4″ cable system, now used by 16 telecoms firms in 14 countries.

Besides acquiring extra bandwidth and directly accessing the USA, sources said, joining this predominantly multi-government submarine cable consortium will become an invaluable backup to the country’s newly commissioned only submarine cable link, SEA-ME-WE-4. If Bangladesh joins the newly formed consortium, the country’s telecoms and ICT industries will enjoy seamless overseas connection even if one of the two cables gets accidentally snapped underneath the sea. The Asia-America Gateway (AAG), an international undersea cable system, will link Southeast Asia with the US. The proposed AAG cable system will use the latest dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology with a minimum design capacity of 1.28 terabits per second. “The Bangladesh government should move fast to utilize this rare opportunity,” said a high official of Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) who has been deeply involved with the negotiation and implementation of SEA-ME-WE-4 project.

Bangladesh is the only sea-accessing country in this region having only one submarine cable. It is a huge drawback for Bangladesh in the trading of international bandwidth as well as connectivity. Since SEA-ME-WE-4 is the country’s only submarine cable, BTTB cannot guarantee any level of availability. The BTTB official said the existing Cox’s Bazar landing station is good enough to connect the AAG cable. Therefore, Bangladesh will pay only for the ‘wet segment’ of the new cable system. “The new AAG and the existing SEA-ME-WE-4 will carry each other’s traffic when either of the cables faces disruption,” he said.

Source: Bangladesh Today

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