To stay on for two more years, says ISPAB
Dhaka city residents may have to bear with nagging overhead cables for two more years.
The internet service providers (ISPs) and cable operators were supposed to remove and take them underground by December last year, as instructed by both Dhaka North and South City Corporations (DNCC and DSCC).
But officials at the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) cited lack of necessary equipment to undertake the process in due time, and said it was not possible even in two years.
The two city corporations began cutting overhead cables from August for the beautification of Dhaka city.
Digital Connectivity, a local ISP at Segunbagicha in the capital, said that since early January, their broadband service was becoming disruptive, as a result of the DSCC removing overhead cables in different areas.
Irfa Network, another ISP operating at Rampura and Jatrabari areas, faced similar ordeals at the same time, said Majharul Islam, its manager.
He was unable to confirm whether the overhead cables were removed by miscreants or the DSCC, as the city corporation did not issue any advance notice.
Despite all of this, the ISPAB has sent a letter to the DSCC, asking for three more months to complete the cable transfer from overhead to underground.
The letter said that all equipment, related to optical fibre, router, switch, optical line termination, and optical distribution frame, were yet to be imported. Some had already arrived, but were not sufficient to complete the task of removing overhead cables at 146 intersections under DSCC's jurisdiction.
But it may be possible in two years, said Emdadul Hoque, general secretary of ISPAB.
“If the DSCC puts pressure on us, then we cannot do it on time. Our equipment has not arrived yet. At best, we can remove the wires from the most problematic regions, but even those will take more than three months," he also said.
“We simply do not have sufficient cables. It will take time,” said Aminul Hakim, president of ISPAB.
“Import delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic are eating up our timeframe,” he added.
Meanwhile, a similar dilemma also persisted under Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), who also pleaded for more time, said Md Selim Reza, its CEO.
“We cannot make any prediction, as ISPAB covers a vast area. But they are doing well. They have already completed the main roads at Gulshan, Uttara, link road and others. It must take time to remove overhead cables from the entire Dhaka City," he also said.
However, both DNCC and ISPAB are to meet again in a week's time to finalise on the time of completion, Reza added.
DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said that most of the main roads were already reaping benefits from the overhead cable removal, but the alleys and connecting roads required more time.
"This week we have a meeting with them (ISPAB). If the mayor agrees, then the time will be increased. But as there are some technical and logistical issues, ISPAB should explain to us why it will take more time and exactly how much more time is needed," said Abu Naser, spokesperson and public relation officer of DSCC.
About 25 to 30 kilometres of cables are needed on average for each road, which caters to 350-400 buildings, said Moin Uddin Ahmed, joint secretary general of ISPAB.
The drive to shift cables underground has significantly increased the internet service provider’s expenditure, he said.
At Dhanmondi, the ISPAB is setting up 6,000 connections by ducting and digging underground, which is costing them Tk 4-4.5 crore, according to Hakim.
The internet service providers and cable operators had been given time after time to remove the cables.
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.