3rd submarine cable’s cost set to rise 50pc

The cost of Bangladesh's third submarine cable project is set to increase by 52.23 per cent as double the bandwidth capacity is being availed while dollar prices are soaring. 

The revised project will now cost Tk 1,055 crore and is schedule to be placed before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) today.

The main project was approved in an Ecnec meeting held in December 2020 with a cost of Tk 693.16 crore and was due to be completed by June 2024.

Now the project will take another year.

The government will provide Tk 476 crore for the project and the rest will come from state-run Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company, the agency implementing the project.

According to planning ministry documents, initially the submarine cable company was supposed to receive 6,000Gbps bandwidth through the SEA-ME-WE-6, the third submarine cable that connected Bangladesh to the world.

But now the bandwidth will be 13,200 gigabytes per second (Gbps).

The amount of extra bandwidth costs more than the additional fund being provided, said Md Azam Ali, the cable company's managing director.

"Besides, we used to pay the consortium (on a) quarterly (basis). So, the current dollar price has also contributed to the additional cost," he added.

The cable will run from Cox's Bazar to Singapore on one side and to France on the other. The bandwidth will be provided to different parts of the country from Cox's Bazar, the landing station.

The current demand of bandwidth of the country is about 4,500Gbps, which is over four times that of the pre-pandemic period.

Of it, the cable company supplies about 2,400Gbps through SEA-ME-WE 4 and SEA-ME-WE 5.

The SEA-ME-WE 4, the first undersea cable with which the country connected to in 2006, supplies about 800Gbps bandwidth.

The cable company is going to spend $3.2 million to enhance the capacity by 3,800 gigabytes per second (Gbps). The upgrade will increase the lifespan of the first undersea cable from 2025 to 2030.

Bandwidth supply through SEA-ME-WE 5, which was connected to the country in 2017, now stands over 1,600Gbps.

The rest comes from India through seven international terrestrial cable (ITC) service providers. Summit Communications, an ITC, alone brings about 1,400Gbps.

The monopoly of the cable company in supplying bandwidth through submarine cables is set to break as the government has recently awarded licences to three firms to establish and operate submarine cables.

This will ramp up the supply of bandwidth amidst a surge in data consumption.

The three private firms will invest around Tk 2,000 crore collectively to connect Bangladesh to at least three more submarine communication cables.

The move will also ensure that internet connections are available at more competitive prices and help reduce or end bandwidth imports.

India currently caters to over 40 per cent of the country's demand for bandwidth through land cables. 


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