Internet slows down after cable snapped in Alexandria
Friday, 01 February 2008

Staff Correspondent

The government will allow a second submarine cable in the private sector to maintain uninterrupted overseas voice and data communications and to back up its existing undersea cable, said Manzurul Alam, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.

‘The government won’t bar any private company if it wants to lay a submarine cable to connect the country with another undersea cable,’ he said.

‘The BTRC will gladly help the investors who come up with such a proposal,’ said Manzurul, and expressed his frustration over the state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board’s delay in acquiring a second submarine cable.

The comment of the BTRC chief was made at a time when the lone SEA-ME-WE4 submarine cable, which is owned by the BTTB as a consortium member, was cut at Alexandria in Egypt on Wednesday, suspending the BTTB’s internet connectivity with Europe and the USA.

The BTTB, in a statement, said the cause of the mishap in Alexandria, which took place at 10:15am Bangladesh time, remains unknown to the authorities.

The BTTB official could not confirm how long it would take to restore the link.

Currently the Western hemisphere-bound internet traffic is diverted via Singapore across the Pacific, said the official.

But the low capacity of the interim route has caused congestion and slowed the internet speed throughout Bangladesh.

The mishap on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast snapped BTTB’s four units of STM4 or 620 megabits per second bandwidth of international internet links.

The BTRC chief said the post and telecommunications ministry should take quick steps for installing a submarine cable line for ‘full redundancy of its existing cable’.

He also suggested lower bandwidth prices for spreading the benefit of information and communications technology to the rural areas.

Earlier, the BTTB sent a proposal of 10 companies, mostly Indian, to the telecom ministry for setting up a back-up of its existing submarine cable as as well as to meet the growing demand for internet and overseas telecom services, which is likely to increase by three times by 2011.

The BTTB’s proposal said the demand for telecom and internet services would shoot up rapidly in the next three years after the implementation of the government’s recently adopted International Long Distance Telecommunication Services Policy 2007.

Bangladesh connected itself to the international Information Super Highway last year by joining, at a cost of $35.1 million, an international consortium of 16 telecom operators which installed the undersea cable.

The BTTB will earn nearly Tk 200 crore from this cable in fiscal year 2007-08. The annual operation and maintenance cost of the cable is about $1.5 million.

The SEA-ME-WE-4 cable has a total capacity of handling 1.2 terabytes per second bandwidth.

Of this, the BTTB originally subscribed 10 gigabytes per second bandwidth. However, in October, the BTTB gained 4 Gbs of bandwidth.

The BTTB, through the submarine cable, is using 2,799 Mbps voice and 1,244 Mbps data.

After the implementation of the International LDTS by 2011, the BTTB will be handling 5,000 Mbps voice and 4,354 Mbps data, and the private international gateways will be handling 5,000 Mbps voice and 1,844 Mbps data.

Therefore, the total bandwidth demand in 2011 will stand at 1,598 Mbps, saturating if not overloading the present capacity of the submarine cable. ‘Mosque-cum-cyclone centres in disaster-prone districts soon’ Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha .

Dhaka The chief of army staff, General Moeen U Ahmed, has said multi-story mosque-cum-cyclone centres will be built in phases in the country’s disaster-prone districts with a view to minimising loss to lives and property during natural calamities.

The army chief said initially we would build five mosque-cum-cyclone centres in the designated areas and work on such project had already been started.

General Moeen said this while receiving donations from different organisations and individuals for the cyclone victims at the Army Headquarters’ Officers Mess at Dhaka Cantonment in Dhaka.

The army chief said apart from using the mosques as cyclone shelters, each establishment would have accommodation facilities for an imam with 360 devotees offering prayers at a time.

The army chief said all temples damaged by the cyclone Sidr would be reconstructed or repaired.

He said all the damaged villages would be reconstructed and affected micro professionals in the far-flung areas rehabilitated. The fishermen, who had lost their boats and nets in the cyclone, will be provided with monetary support, he added.

The army chief said because of an enormous post-cyclone rehabilitation programme being carried out by various organisations and individuals the cyclone-affected people had again started going back to their normal life.

‘We have taken advanced measures to distribute reading materials among the students, including SSC and HSC candidates, in the cyclone-affected areas as the government books do not reach the grassroots level within the stipulated timeframe.’ Moeen said.

He said the army had provided the farmers with power tillers in the affected areas in fulfilment of a demand made a conference of the local government representatives in Dhaka recently.

Moeen said various individuals and organisations had so far donated Tk 23.66 crore to the army relief fund and Prabashi Palli, an expatriate’s organisation, alone donated Tk 47 lakh for building one mosque-cum- cyclone centre.

The construction of the said mosque-cum-cyclone centre is going on in full swing in Southkhali area under Sarankhola upazila of Bagerhat, ISPR sources said.

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