The connection of Bangladesh to its second submarine communications cable on Sunday presented the country with an unusual but not unwanted problem: what to do with the excess capacity.
Over 550,000 miles of fibre optic cables are buried under the world’s oceans to deliver the bulk of emails, web pages, and other electronic communications from one continent to another at the speed of light.
Bangladesh’s first submarine cable network SEA-ME-WE 4 has been providing the country with 250Gbps of bandwidth for nearly a decade. Until now, the remainder of the country’s 400Gbps demand has been met by six international extraterrestrial cable associations.
However, the connection to the SEA-ME-WE 5 undersea network on Sunday provided the country with another 200Gbps bandwidth, which will eventually rise to 1,500Gbps.
“The increased capacity far exceeds Bangladesh’s current needs,” Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited Managing Director Md Monwar Hossain said. “The authorities will decide how best to utilise the bandwidth."
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Mustafa Jabbar, president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, feels that acquiring this bandwidth is a decisive step towards achieving the government’s goal of a Digital Bangladesh.
“We had to be part of the submarine cable network in five or seven years; there was no way around it,” he said.
“It is good that it happened already. If people use the internet for more than just browsing Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, even the 1,500Gbps bandwidth will not suffice.”
Mustafa Jabbar urged Bangladesh to cease importing internet from India via the extraterrestrial companies, pointing out that the SEA-ME-WE 5 has essentially eliminated the need for imports.
“Now we have to focus on strengthening our broadband internet and making it widely available,” he said.
Broadband internet users only account for 6.5% of all internet consumers nationwide.
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Aminul Hakim, president of Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh, said the country had started importing internet as a backup for the submarine cable, but that SEA-ME-WE 5 is an added boost and a backup all in one.
“It is a great plus for our country, but I do not see broadband internet receiving any benefits. The only ones who will profit will be people who buy directly from BSCCL, and they do not sell any less than 10Gbps,” he said.
Aminul asserted that Bangladesh will have to reduce its dependency on imported bandwidth and consider exporting the surplus bandwidth.
E-commerce Association of Bangladesh President Razib Ahmed said: “We welcome the second submarine cable wholeheartedly. The better the bandwidth, the better it means for e-commerce and the economy.”
Razib hoped that every upazila will be connected with optical fibre just like cable TV. He also urged the government to regulate telecom operators to ensure they provide true 3G services to consumers.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune