Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL) has kick-started the preparations for its third undersea cable link to meet the country's growing demand for data.
“It will hardly take few years to consume all the bandwidth the country has right now,” said Mustafa Jabbar, telecom minister.
The country's data consumption is growing at triple digits over the last few years and it will only accelerate with the rollout of 4G service, said Jabbar, who is also a leading entrepreneur in digital business.
“To meet that demand we need to take prior preparation, as establishing the link with submarine cable is time-consuming.”
The telecom minister has discussed the matter with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and she has given her verbal consent, he said.
The country is on the hunt for a consortium in the Southeast Asia region to link the submarine cable.
“She asked me to grab the first chance that I get to become a member of any new consortium,” Jabbar said.
Mashiur Rahman, managing director of the state-owned company, said they are in talks with a new consortium that is being formed. “We will definitely try to join the consortium,” he added.
At present, Bangladesh's total bandwidth usage is about 565 Gbps, up from about 380 Gbps a year ago.
Of the volume, BSCCL is supplying 270 Gbps from its first cable in Cox's Bazar and another 120 Gbps from its second cable in Kuakata, according to officials of the country's lone submarine cable company.
Another 175 Gbps comes from India through the International Terrestrial Cable (ITC) links.
Jabbar said the country's youth has become very data-centric and they are using a large number of digital services as well.
The trend suggests their hunger for data will increase furthermore when 4G is properly rolled out across the country. In 2009, bandwidth consumption was only 8 Gbps and it will soon cross 600 Gbps.
“Within a few years we may even face a bandwidth crunch. So, the country needs to take preparations for the upcoming days,” the telecom minister added.
Another reason for the new submarine cable is that the first one that linked up with the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable in 2006 is nearing the end of its 20-year lifespan in six years' time. It is not possible to increase its capacity much and its maintenance cost is increasing every year, said a top official of BSCCL.
BSCCL spent about Tk 500 crore and they earned more than the expenses of the country's first cable.
The second submarine cable (SEA-ME-WE-5) project costs Bangladesh Tk 660.64 crore; BSCCL took a loan of $44 million from the Islamic Development Bank.
In the early 1990s, the then government had rejected a proposal for free connection with SEA-ME-WE-3.