ISPAB removing at snail's pace, DSCC to take matters in own hands if deadline not met
The internet service providers and cable operators are nowhere near to removing the overhead cables in the capital's Dhanmondi area even though they were given stern instructions by the Dhaka South City Corporation to remove them by December.
Dhaka Tribune spoke with the people tasked with removing the cable -- the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) and the Cable Operators Association of Bangladesh (COAB) -- and a picture emerged of blame-shifting.
The digging of the roads to stuff the overhead cables to underground is complete, but the equipment needed to set up the cables beneath the surface is yet to arrive, according to officials of ISPAB.
The machinery would take 10 more days to arrive from Khulna and India, said Moin Uddin Ahmed, joint secretary general of ISPAB.
“Import delays due to the pandemic are eating up our timeframe.”
ISPAB is bringing three types of cables for connection through the streets and main roads.
About 25 to 30 kilometres of cables are needed on average for each road, which caters to 350-400 buildings, he added.
“We don’t have sufficient cables, so it is taking time,” said Aminul Hakim, president of ISPAB.
The drive to shift cables underground has significantly increased the internet service provider’s expenditure, he said.
At Dhanmondi, the ISPABis setting up 6,000 connections by ducting and digging underground, which is costing them Tk 4-4.5 crore, according to Hakim.
According to DSCC, officials of ISPAB and COAB held a meeting with them on November 23, where they requested for a deadline extension until December, which was granted.
But sources say the operators are yet to finish even half the work.
But DSCC officials warned that if the two organisations did not finish the work within the given time, they will start removing the overhead cables themselves and no further requests will be entertained.
The internet service providers and cable operators had been given time after time to remove the cables, but they overlooked them every time.
“If they fail this time, DSCC will take over the process,” said Abu Naser, its public relation officer.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam suggested a collaborative effort between the DNCC and the companies listed with the Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) to make the process a success.
“We can’t bear this garbage of 30 years -- we want a clean Dhaka. They (ISPs and cable operators) squandered year after year but we can't give them any more time.”
Islam has asked for a roadmap from ISPAB to know their progress.
“We will discuss the next course of action in our next meeting,” he added.
Earlier, the two city corporations started cutting overhead cables from August for the beautification of Dhaka city.
The ISPs alleged that as a result of DSCC’s drive to remove illegal overhead cable connections without first setting up the underground cable management system, it forced them to incur an estimated loss of Tk 20 crore in August and September.
In protest against the removal of overhead wires by the DSCC in the capital, ISPAB and COAB on October 12 threatened to shut down the internet for 3-hour every day from October 18.
Later, they postponed the decision after a meeting with the ministers of the post, telecommunication, and information ministry.
Meanwhile, a new NTTN member, Bahon, has already established underground connectivity of seven intersections, spanning the entire length of Gulshan area for the 45-50 ISPs operating in those areas.
Zia Shamsi, executive director of Bahon, plans to take the underground connectivity route across the country by mid-2022.