Five out of the six International Terrestrial Cable (ITC) licensees announced twelve months ago in Bangladesh have been given final approval from the domestic and Indian authorities to begin commercial operations, according to the Financial Express. The five operators in receipt of final permission are Novocom, Asis-AHL JV, Summit Communications, Mango Teleservices and Fiber@Home, whereas BD Link Communication is expecting approval soon. An executive director of BD Link was quoted as saying that the company applied late for the necessary approvals but had already completed the installation work needed for commercial launch.
Novocom has already announced its commercial launch, whilst the managing director of Mango, Masud Kabir, told the Financial Express that his company’s international link will enter commercial operation once it gets tariff approval. Both Fiber@Home and Summit have negotiated commercial agreements with existing telecoms operators for providing transmission services. Indian telco Tata Communications has acted as the initial international gateway operator to connect the new cable operators worldwide, but other Indian operators including Bharti Airtel and Reliance are also reportedly partnering the ITC licensees to provide global connectivity. In September 2012 all six new licensees tested services in partnership with Tata, subsequent to which five of them received permission for commercial launch, according to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). Vice president of the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB), Suman Ahmed Sabbir, said the new cables will boost sectors including call centres, business processing outsourcing (BPO) and software support.
The country awarded the six ITC licences in January 2012 for installation of international terrestrial cables to provide additional connectivity and redundancy, as an alternative to its sole link to the international submarine cable SEA-ME-WE-4, managed locally by Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL). BTRC chairman Sunil Kanti Bose said earlier this month that Bangladesh is currently using 32Gbps out of 165Gbps SEA-ME-WE-4 capacity; BSCCL reported in the fourth quarter of 2012 that usage had reached 26Gbps out of 86Gbps available capacity. BSCCL is a member of the newly formed SEA-ME-WE-5 consortium to deploy a major new submarine cable, tentatively scheduled for the end of 2014, while the BTRC also plans to invite fresh bids from the private sector for the installation of a submarine cable by the middle of this year. Drawing attention to the need for alternative international routes, a SEA-ME-WE-4 outage in June 2012 affected most of the country’s internet users, according to ISPAB.