Launch of high speed cable delayed again

4 May 2006

A source at Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) told local newspaper The Daily Star that the Bangladeshi section of the SEA-ME-WE4 submarine cable is still undergoing tests. The cable is connected to a newly built fibre-optic link between the Cox’s Bazar landing station and Chittagong, and Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is expected to inaugurate it on 21 May, but the schedule has not been finalised. A formal launch was previously expected on April 27. According to the paper, upon launch, consumers will not have widespread access to broadband internet services and low-cost VoIP calls via the cable until BTTB awards licences to private operators to deploy high speed connections in cities, a process it has apparently not begun yet.

Whilst the delays continue, illegal VoIP operators earn an estimated USD15 million per month. The government says it will award VoIP licences after completing a project to build a common IP telephony platform in four areas of Bangladesh – Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Bogra – operated by BTTB, through which all IP voice traffic will be routed. This system will not be in operation until July at the earliest.

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