Bhutan to import cheap BD bandwidth
SA Monitor Staff
Amid downward position in creating a ‘favorable business environment’ for foreign investors, Bhutan has decided to buy Internet bandwidth from Bangladesh. The country is likely to import 2.5 to 10 Gbps (gigabits per second) of Internet bandwidth to establish third international link to the Internet. Now, discussions are underway on price fixing and other issues related to this. This was disclosed by the country’s online news portal Kuensel on November 11.
The landlocked South Asian country has been showing its interest to import internet bandwidth form Bangladesh since long. They tabled proposal in this regard before Bangladesh junior Telecom Misniter Tarana Halim during her visit to Thimphu early in August this year. Later in October, Bhutan’s Minister for Information and Communications Lyonpo DN Dhungyel visited Dhaka, and he discussed the issue with the officials concerned.
According to Kuensel, state-owned Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited has offered Bhutan bandwidth between the ranges of USD 14 to USD 18 per Mb (megabyte). The amount is three times lower than the rate Bhutan is currently paying to India for Internet –USD 52 per Mb.
Bangladesh has been exporting 10gbps bandwidth to India’s Tripura since February this year at a price of $100,000 per month.
A Bhutanese technical team is currently studying the feasibility of bringing in Internet connectivity from Bangladesh. Bhutan requires consent from India as well to import Internet bandwidth from Bangladesh. The price offered by Bangladesh will be applicable up to the Bangladesh-India border. There will also be additional cost when the Internet connectivity passes through the Indian territory.
Two routes are currently being considered: Sylhet-Tamabil-Shillong-Guwahati-Samdrupjongkhar and Akhaura-Agartala-Guwahati-Samdrupjongkhar.
Bhutan has slipped two places from 71 to 73 among 190 countries in the World Bank’s “ease of doing business” ranking in the Doing Business 2017 report released in October this year. However, the report said that it was the easiest country to do business in South Asia.
Officials in Bhutan think alternate redundant connectivity is necessary to attract FDIs in ICT and BPO sectors in the country.
“The demand for third gateway was increasingly felt necessary if Bhutan is to attract investors in IT and IT related businesses. Moreover, in case of disaster, such connectivity would help us to become e-Resilient,” wrote Kuensel.
Bhutan introduced Internet only in 1999, after years of deliberate policy of isolation fearing outside influences would undermine its absolute monarchy, freedom and culture.
Bhutan was the first country to recognize Bangladesh’s independence. In recent years, the two countries have expressed their commitment to strengthen a strategic development partnership, encompassing hydropower, free trade and transport.
Meanwhile, Dhaka is considering investing in the 1125-MW Dorjilung hydropower project in Bhutan.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said Bangladesh expressed willingness to invest US$ 1 billion in the 1125-MW Dorjilung hydropower project under trilateral cooperation with India and Bhutan, reported UNB, a Dhaka-based news agency, on November 8.
Besides, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal signed the Motor Vehicles Agreement with a view to making vehicular movement seamless across borders in South Asian region.