Bangladesh to build third subsea cable

18 January 2019 | Natalie Bannerman

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The government of Bangladesh has announced plans to build a third submarine cable system to meeting growing data demands.

Telecom and ICT Minister, Mustafa Jabbar (pictured) confirmed the news while at the trial run of Robi Axiata’s voice over long-term evolution (VoLTE) service in Dhakar.

“More and more new technologies are hitting the market, fuelling the growth of data consumption,” he said. “We have decided in principle that we will go for a third submarine cable.”

According to The Daily Star bandwidth consumption in the country now exceeds 900Gbps up from just 550Gbps a year ago. Industry experts attribute this growth to the rollout of 4G services.

“The growth rate is flying, so our total capacity will be exhausted within next year. So, it will not be possible for us to supply required bandwidth unless an alternative source of internet is developed,” added Jabbar.

The country is said to be looking to join the consortium that intends to rapidly deploy a new cable from Singapore.

As well as the need for more bandwidth, the first subsea cable in the country, South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) that went live in 2006, is near to reaching the end of its 20-year lifespan, said an official of state-run Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL).

“It is not possible to expand the capacity of the first undersea cable much and its maintenance cost is also increasing every year,” added the official.

SEA-ME-WE 4, the 18,800km, 4.6Tbps cable connects Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria and France.

It was then followed by SEA-ME-WE 5 in 2017 at a length of 20,000km offering links to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Djibuti, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Turkey and France through a total of 19 landing points.

It was at the start of 2018 the government asked BSCCL to begin looking for a third subsea cable link, as has reportedly contacted several subsea consortiums only recently learning of SEA-ME-WE-6.