Govt okays 3rd submarine cable project

Staff Correspondent

2 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

The government will install the third submarine cable to ensure speedy and uninterrupted internet service in the country.

In this regard, a project titled ‘Installation of third submarine cable to expanded international telecommunication system in Bangladesh’ was approved on Tuesday. 

The approval came from a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) held virtually with its Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

The initiative for installing a new submarine cable comes as the existing two cables won’t be able to cope up with the rising demand for broadband internet use in the country over the next few years.

 “In the context of a growing demand for internet in the country, it has become essential to set up a new submarine cable as the capacity of the existing two submarine cables will start to decrease in the next few years,” commented Md Kamruzzaman, additional secretary of post and telecommunications division.  The project has been picked up to meet the growing demand for internet by the time when the capacity of the present two cables will become limited, the additional secretary added. 

The submarine cable network is seen as the main infrastructure in building ‘Digital Bangladesh’ in line with the government’s long-term development vision. 

Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) under the Ministry of Post, Telecommunications and ICT will implement the project by June 2024.

Planning Commission Member of Physical Infrastructure Division Mamun-Al-Rashid informed that the cable will connect to new consortium called SEA-ME-WE-6. 

SEA-ME-WE-6 submarine cable will stretch from Singapore to France and will extend to the Mediterranean Sea through the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea.

The cable will have core landing stations in Singapore, India, Djibouti, Egypt and France. The Bangladesh branch will stretch to the cable landing station at Cox’s Bazar through the Bay of Bengal.

With the installation of the new submarine cable, Bangladesh will get 6 terabytes per second of bandwidth that will boost internet speed and help launch 5G services in the country.

Once the project is implemented, it will be possible to meet the growing demand for uninterrupted modern broadband internet services across the country in addition to enhancing the capacity of BSCCL.

The Planning Commission member said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her happiness for undertaking this time-befitting project as the demand for bandwidth has increased manifold over the years.

Once the project is implemented, extra bandwidth could be exported to the neighbouring states of India and also to Bhutan. Besides, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also expressed their eagerness to procure bandwidth from Bangladesh, he also informed.

BSCCL has been working on the expansion of broadband internet in line with International long-distance telecommunications service (ILDTS) policy and domestic ICT policy.

The state-run company is providing 60 per cent on the broadband internet in the country through its two submarine cables connected by two land stations in Cox’s Bazar and Kuakata.

Data compiled by BSCCL and International Terrestrial Cable (ITC) suggest that the increase in bandwidth use in the country is nearly 70 per cent per year.

The demand for bandwidth is expected to rise further once 5G telephony service is launched in the country by 2021.

The first submarine cable SEA-ME-WE-4 was installed in the country in 2005 and the second one SEA-ME-WE-5 in 2017. 20 years economic life of the first cable will end in 2025, while the rate of service interruption of the first cable is getting high over the years. 

Besides, internet users are also losing interest in existing cables, internet speed of which are comparatively slow because of old technology, according to BSCCL officials.

Against this backdrop, the initiative has been taken to install a new submarine cable under a new consortium.

Under the proposed project, 13,275km crore cable and 1850km branch cable will be installed along with establishing a link to landing stations in Singapore and France along with accomplishing other electrical work and procure necessary equipment.