Posted by: Duncan Chowdhury | September 3, 2009

Exporting Internet Bandwidth

A report has been published today in Daily Ittefaq. The Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company is now planning to export internet bandwidth to Nepal and Bhutan. According to BSCC, we are using only 31 % of the total capacity of internet bandwidth and the balance bandwidth is left utilized, so this could be exported to Nepal or Bhutan. These countries are landlocked and do not have direct access to sea, thus unable to have internet connection through submarine cables. They rely on costly VSAT technology which is a costly affair.

Exporting internet bandwidth to Bhutan and Nepal is of high potentiality and could fetch us substantial revenues. This is because of the advantage we enjoy for our country’s geographical location. The problem is that we do not have any common border with any of these countries, in between there is a patch of Indian soil. Now the question arises whether Bangladesh will be able to negotiate with India for allowing us to lay cables through their land, to reach a third country. I believe this will be a difficult job, as it is understood that India itself would like to take the opportunity to provide such internet connection to these countries.

Now other pertinent question arises, are we now in a position to transfer our bandwidth to a third country? According to the newspaper report currently we are using only 31 % of our bandwidth, apparently it seems that the rest is left unutilized. This would be an acceptable proposal if we had a high usage of internet bandwidth per capita at present. Being a country of around 150 million people, I guess hardly a million people have access to internet. We have to reach out to more and more people with the internet, in order to materialize our vision of Digital Bangladesh. The cost of internet connection is still out of reach of the general people. Still we have to pay on an average Tk.1,000 to stay online to our service provider. The cost is still same as the old VSAT usage. What percentage of our population can afford that, the Government must take steps to lower down the cost of internet usage, then only we will be able to see that the rate of utilization of internet shall increase more and more and there will be no unutilized bandwidth left.

Finally, I would still say not to give up the idea of exporting bandwidth to our neighbouring countries, this could be done only after our optimum utilization of our required bandwidth, perhaps a second submarine line could be installed for this purpose only. The bottom line is that, Nepal and Bhutan along with the development of the information technology, will surely be linked with submarine cables and these has to be routed either via India or Bangladesh. China’s border with these two countries are located in remote Chinese areas as such it will be difficult to connect. Now it will depend on the strength of the Bangladeshi diplomacy, how they could come to a advantages situation and bring revenue for the country from this sector.


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