Railway's fibre optic network to open to all
Grameenphone's exclusivity in using the Bangladesh Railway's fibre optic network is set to come to an end after 20 years as the government looks to make the most of the resources available to realise its Digital Bangladesh vision.
In 1989, BR under a modernisation project of its signalling system installed the optical fibre network at 300 stations with financial assistance from the Norwegian government.
As the capacity of the fibre optic remained mostly unused in 1997, Grameenphone, majority owned by Norwegian company Telenor, signed an agreement with the then railway division to use, maintain and run the business operation of the fibre optic cable, after winning an international bid.
The government has now taken an initiative to withdraw the exclusivity agreement between Grameenphone and BR as the cable is a public resource and should be open to all such that they can digitise the country.
A joint committee comprising representatives from Grameenphone and BR has started working on reviewing the terms of agreement between the entities.
The revision of the deal will open up more than 2,100 kilometres of optical fibre cable of BR to all interested parties, said an official of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. BR will be able to supervise and lease or sub-lease the cable to any other entity.
The other entities, including internet service providers, will also get to use the cable to take their services to the rural areas, said the BTRC official.
Grameenphone, in a letter to the BTRC, said it is open to allowing other operators to use BR's optical fibre network in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.
Meanwhile, BTRC officials said that the commission in 2014 provided nationwide telecom transmission network (NTTN) licence to BR, allowing the entity to do business in the sector.
According to BTRC, there are currently 54,228 kilometres of fibre optic cable, where the NTTN operators have a major share.
Summit Communication has 20,670km, Fibre@Home 15,468km, Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited 4,935km, Power Grid Company of Bangladesh 4,402km and BR 2,105km.
Among the mobile phone operators, Banglalink has 3,000km, Grameenphone 2,500km and the other operators 1,157km of fibre optic cables.