Bharti, RCom seek telecom corridor through BangladeshSeptember 6th, 2009 - 3:27 pm ICT by IANS
Dhaka, Sep 6 (IANS) Two Indian telecom majors have sought a corridor through Bangladesh to reach the isolated north-eastern region and in return offered a stand-by submarine cable.
Indian telecom giants - Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications (RCom) - have submitted a joint proposal in this regard to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), according to The Daily Star newspaper.
In return for allowing access to the north-eastern states, Bangladesh will get a wider link as the Indian companies have already connected with Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan and have offered to link with Myanmar, the daily quoted officials as saying.
If any deal is signed, Bangladesh can use the companies’ undersea cable network as an alternative to the lone submarine cable it has from Southeast Asia.
Exclusive dependence on the submarine cable system linking South East Asia to Europe via the Indian subcontinent and the Gulf has often caused snarl-ups, snapping Bangladesh’s telecom and Internet ties with the outside world.
Experts think that such an initiative can relieve Bangladesh from repeated disruption of undersea cable, which inflicts a huge loss to the country’s information and communication technology sector, said Sunday.
The two Indian companies are ready to link with any Bangladeshi fibre optic operator to provide telecom services to Indian states: Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
Bharti and RCom want to build a fibre optic link to Assam from Meherpur on the Kolkata-Meherpur-Dhaka-Haflong route with an option of an alternative route through Kolkata-Meherpur-Dhaka-Comilla-Agartala.
They are also willing to bring Myanmar under their network, subject to approval of that nation.
The seven north-eastern states now get telecom services through VSAT (very small aperture terminal) at a high price.
The BTRC views the proposed network as an alternative to Bangladesh’s lone submarine cable, but the Bangladesh government is yet to decide on the proposal.
“The link if developed by a local company between India’s mainland and the seven sister states might work as an alternative network for us in case of disruptions to our lone submarine cable line,” the daily Star quoted a BTRC official.
“The Indian companies have already brought Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan under their submarine cable network. If the proposal is implemented, we shall get connected with these countries and be benefited financially,” he said.
Internet service providers have welcomed the initiative and said there is no reason to hesitate over the proposal if the Indian companies give Bangladesh some benefits.
“If Bangladesh can get connected with the US, there should be no problem with the seven sister states,” said Akhtaruzzaman Manju, president of Internet Service Providers Association, Bangladesh.
RCom, which has a high-capacity, integrated and convergent digital network, began laying 60,000-km of a pan-India fibre optic backbone in December 2002.
Airtel Telemedia, a Bharti Airtel subsidiary, offers broadband and telephone services in 95 cities and has recently launched direct-to-home service digital television service.
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