Bangladesh Mulls Over Backup Telecom Cable Line Via Burma

Narinjara News

The Bangladesh government is seriously considering the possibility of a fiber optic cable linking Cox's Bazar with Pyapon of Burma, in order to give Bangladesh access to the SEA-ME-WE-3 undersea cable as a backup to the recently commissioned SEA-ME-WE-4 cable link, reported the Bangladesh newspaper New Age.

The 30,000 kilometer SEA-ME-WE-3 is the world's longest submarine fiber link, connecting 34 countries the Middle East, Western Europe, and Asia, including Burma. It currently carries the data and telecoms traffic from all the connected countries at a speed of 40 gigabytes per second.

The Bangladesh post and telecommunications ministry last month asked the Bangladesh foreign ministry to take up the matter with Burma's military authorities, as it feels an urgent need for a backup line to ensure uninterrupted telecommunication services in case of any disruption in the 22,000 SEA-ME-WE-4 link.

Bangladesh was connected to the new undersea cable on May 21, 2006 as part of a 16-party consortium and Cox's Bazaar, a border town close to Burma, is the landing station of the cable in Bangladesh.

"We have sent a letter to the foreign ministry requesting it to discuss the matter with the Myanmar government," said a senior official of the Bangladesh telecommunications ministry Thursday.

With just one submarine cable link, the Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board can not guarantee non-stop services to internet service providers and telecom companies, compelling them to rely on satellite links as emergency backups, the official pointed out.

Against this backdrop, he said, "A backup link with SEA-ME-WE-3 cable will give local telecommunications industry a seamless overseas connection if existing cable links are snapped accidentally."

The government has not yet assessed the cost required for laying the underground cable line linking Cox's Bazaar with Pyapon, Myanmar's landing station of SE-ME-WE-3, some 75 kilometre south from the capital Rangoon.

"We will do an assessment once we get a nod from Myanmar authorities," said the Bangladeshi telecom official.

The Bangladesh government is also exploring the possibility of joining a consortium of seven Southeast Asian telecom operators to be linked to a 20,000 kilometre Malaysia-US submarine cable network, in addition to SEA-ME-WE-4 cable link