India has decided to double the import of the 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) internet bandwidth from Bangladesh to boost internet connectivity in its north-eastern states.
Quoting Indian Union Minister for Information and Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw, Indian financial daily Mint reports that the Indian authorities on 5 January this year made a decision to increase this bandwidth so that the entire northeastern region especially, Manipur, can get high-speed connectivity.
"Two to three months back, thinking out of the box, we took an experimental connection of 10 Gbps fibre connectivity from Cox's Bazar to Agartala. In two months, it stabilised," the minister is quoted as saying.
"Based on that experiment, in the next five to six weeks, we will double the bandwidth. We will see the results and then will further double the bandwidth," he added.
Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL), however, has not received any proposal in this regard, according to sources.
Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar told The Business Standard that the neighbouring country is currently taking 10 Gbps of bandwidth, but no proposal for increasing the volume has yet reached the Bangladesh authorities.
"If they want to increase the volume, we don't have any objection because we have additional capacity compared to our consumption demand," said Mustafa Jabbar.
"We have started to export our unused bandwidth to Saudi Arabia and are ready to export the bandwidth to Nepal, Bhutan and Malaysia," he added.
The Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company started to export 10 Gbps IP Bandwidth to Tripura on 8 February 2016 under a four-year contract.
Bangladesh used to earn around Tk10 crore per year by exporting bandwidth to India.
After India discontinued the import in February 2020, Bangladesh resumed the export of internet bandwidth to Tripura in November last year.
At present, Bangladesh has a total capacity to provide 3,345.65 Gbps bandwidth whereas the domestic demand is 2,496.48 Gbps.
Of the total capacity, the state-owned Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company's two submarine cables – SEA-ME-WE-4 and SEA-ME-WE-5 – alone have a capacity to provide 2,700 Gbps and the rest of the capacity is being added by private suppliers.
AKM Habibur Rahman, managing director of the submarine cable company told TBS that at present, around 1,700 Gbps of bandwidth provided by his company is used in the country, of which around 95% is eastbound towards Singapore.
But, as a member of SMW-5 consortium, the company possesses a big capacity in the SMW-5 submarine cable in the west direction from Sri Lanka to France/Italy, of which a very small portion is utilised till date, he added.
Against such a backdrop, the company has always been actively looking for opportunities to lease/transfer its huge amount of mostly unused westbound submarine cable capacity to willing international telecom operators, Habibur Rahman maintained.
As part of the endeavours, the company has transferred 600 Gbps capacity from its allocated capacity in the western part of the second submarine cable for a one-time fee of Tk30.6 crore to Saudi Telecom Company.
It is also searching for a customer to sell the remaining capacity of the western part.
French telecom operator, Orange, has signed an agreement with Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company on 30 June last year to take a lease of 13 Gbps capacity from the Bangladeshi company on the Singapore-France route of the SMW-5 submarine cable.