The Bangladesh government has agreed to allow the private sector to build a submarine cable. Manzurul Alam, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said that the government would allow a second cable as part of its efforts to provide reliable Internet access services for the country.
Bangladesh is currently served only by SEA-ME-WE-4, which is connected in Bangladesh by the government owned carrier, Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB). The lone terrestrial cable linking the SEA-ME-WE-4 landing station in Cox's Bazar with the rest of BTTB's network has been cut more than two dozen times since the cable entered service in May 2006, with each cut resulting in loss of most of the country's international Internet bandwidth. BTTB's Internet services were also crippled by the recent SEA-ME-WE-4 break off Egypt.
The government hopes that a privately owned second submarine cable would allow Bangladesh to maintain uninterrupted overseas voice and data communications by acting as a back up to SEA-ME-WE-4. Government said it would not bar any private company that wants to lay a submarine cable to connect Bangladesh with another undersea cable.
Mr. Manzurul also added that, "BTRC will gladly help the investors who come up with such a proposal." He expressed his frustration over BTTB's delay in acquiring a second submarine cable.
BTTB has also come under criticism for failing to reach a deal for redundant terrestrial fiber cables to the cable station, which could prevent the outages suffered when a cable is cut. BTTB has reportedly been negotiating with Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) to access the latter's fiber cables, but the two companies have not been able to agree on a price.
Furthermore, BTTB reportedly declined the opportunity to purchase emergency restoration capacity on SEA-ME-WE-4 as a cost savings measure.
The result of these actions is that Bangladesh's access to the Internet is extremely fragile.
The BTRC chief said the post and telecommunications ministry should take quick steps for installing a submarine cable line for "full redundancy of its existing cable." He also suggested lower bandwidth prices for spreading the benefit of information and communications technology to the rural areas.
Earlier, the BTTB sent a proposal of 10 companies, mostly Indian, to the telecom ministry for setting up a back-up of its existing submarine cable as well as to meet the growing demand for internet and overseas telecom services, which is likely to increase by three times by 2011.
The BTTB's proposal said the demand for telecom and Internet services would shoot up rapidly in the next three years after the implementation of the government's recently adopted International Long Distance Telecommunication Services Policy 2007.