Sinlung /
15 July 2013

6 Northeast States May Log On To Net Via Bangladesh

By Abhishek Law

Cox’s Bazar may be used for deep sea cable landing point for onward connectivity

Kolkata, Jul 15 : The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is planning to improve Internet connectivity in the North-Eastern states through the neighbouring country of Bangladesh.

According to an internal note , DoT has asked Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to examine the financial and technical viability of Internet connectivity to the North-East India via Cox’s Bazar region in Bangladesh.

The proposed route

Connectivity would be through Chennai to the North-Eastern states via Cox’s Bazar. The proposed optical fibre network would be from Agartala to Cox’s Bazar to Chennai on submarine (deep sea) cable, the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region’s Web site maintains.

Geographical proximity of Cox’s Bazar with the six North-Eastern states (Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura) is one reason. Assam is considered as a separate circle in telecom parlance and is not included. The location of Bangladesh’s only submarine cable landing station at Cox’s Bazar (required for laying an optical fibre cable network) is also a key factor.

Bangladesh is connected through the international Internet gateway or SEA-ME-WE 4 (South-East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 4) cable system. The cable system, developed by 16 telecos, links Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria and France.
Connectivity Issues

The current Internet link in the North-East is through the Dharmanagar (Tripura) – Shillong (Meghalaya) – Kolkata (West Bengal) route. This is a link that is often affected when natural calamities occur.

BSNL, apart from Aizwal (Mizoram) and Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), has been able to provide Internet connectivity in the North-East through the otherwise circuitous ‘chicken’s neck region’ route. Connectivity has been provided through the hiring of “adequate bandwidth” from Power Grid Corporation Ltd.

Compared to the National tele-density average of over 76 per cent, the North Eastern states (apart from Assam) have a 60 per cent tele-density. Assam has around 45 per cent tele-density.
BSNL’s suggestions

The state-run BSNL has, meanwhile, pointed out that the reliability of the proposed link (connectivity through Cox’s Bazar) will depend on the 300-km connectivity between Sabroom (Tripura) and Cox’s Bazar.

“BSNL has observed that the reliability of Bangladesh Telecom Corporation Ltd (BTCL) between Kolkata and Bangladesh section is not good,” the DoT note mentions.

Instead, a suggestion has been made to have an alternative connectivity between Agartala (Tripura) and Kolkata (West Bengal) in the first phase, followed by connectivity to Cox’s Bazar later.

BSNL has also observed that the only cable landing station in Cox’s bazaar is not adequate.

Interestingly, Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister of Tripura, too, had in an interview to Business Line maintained that the optical fibre link through Dharmanagar-Shillong-Kolkata gets disrupted during natural calamities.

“We are pushing for extension of existing OFC link between Krishnanagar (West Bengal) and Dhaka to Agartala. The telecom ministry has granted an in-principle approval for the Dhaka-Agartala OFC link. But the project needs to be expedited,” he said.


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