Bangladesh telecoms and ICT ministers ‘in dispute’ over $360m rival fibre networks

Bangladesh telecoms and ICT ministers ‘in dispute’ over $360m rival fibre networks

Bangladesh’s telecoms and information communications ministry is fighting an internal war over which division is responsible for building and maintaining a $360 million national fibre network.

One division is building networks without authority, according to reports in Dhaka’s Daily Star, and another – which has authority – is building networks that in some cases duplicate them.

The Daily Star says that the information and communications technology (ICT) division has built local and regional networks and is planning to continue to national level without authority.

Each division is run by a separate minister, with Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, in overall charge of the ministry, which also runs posts.

An official of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) told the Daily Star that “the ICT division does not have the authority to develop or install fibre-optic cable or any other telecom equipment”.

The dispute has already reached the country’s parliament, with members questioning telecoms minister Tarana Halim on why the rival department is building fibre networks without authority.

It’s the job of her department and the state-owned network, Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL), she told the politicians.

“Without any coordination with the telecom division, the ICT division has been expanding the network,” she said, as quoted in the Daily Star. “Now, it has created confusion over cable maintenance. Since the telecom division has not developed the links, it will be impossible for the BTCL to maintain the ICT division’s cables.”

Her rival minister, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, did not attend the meeting of the parliamentary committee, whose chairman said he would take the issue to the prime minister.

“A lack of coordination between the divisions may result in overlapping and pose serious uncertainty in the maintenance of the lines in future,” said Halim, according to the Daily Star report.

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