• Thursday, Dec 03, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:37 am

ED: Cutting off internet access serves no one

  • Published at 02:19 am October 16th, 2020
Internet_Cable_Rajib
Overhead cables being removed in Dhaka.Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

We need access to the internet now more than ever

The recent controversy surrounding DSCC’s decision to cut overhead internet cables not only speaks to governmental incompetence and negligence, but also of a situation that was entirely avoidable.

The initiative to shift cables underground -- their existence overhead poses serious risks to safety and harm the overall beautification of the city -- is undoubtedly one of the most commendable decisions taken by city authorities and should be applauded.

But it makes little sense to carry out a drive to unilaterally cut off cables at a time when our access to the internet has become of paramount importance, at a time when education and income are inherently tied to our ability to stay online.

The decision is especially mind-boggling considering the fact that DSCC has not even set up an underground management system as an alternative, essentially providing no avenue for internet service providers to keep their services running. 

In protest, the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh has declared that their services will be halted between 10am and 1pm every day from October 18 for both commercial and residential clients. While we understand their frustration -- ISPs have incurred a loss of Tk20 crore in August and September because of the drive -- this is not the way to go about it. At the end of the day, it is the people who will suffer. 

We need access to the internet now more than ever -- in fact, our economy and livelihoods and our children’s education depend on it to such an extent that putting people in a situation where they are forced to buy mobile data or, even worse, to put their own lives at risk unnecessarily is inexcusable, especially on the part of the DSCC authorities.

We urge DSCC and the ISPAB to generate a long-term plan that prioritizes the people -- the DSCC needs to halt its drive until a suitable alternative is provided and ISPs must understand the importance of the service they currently provide and put off any form of protest which only serves to make the situation worse.

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