Internet access in northeast to get a boost

Kolkata, Aug 12[sinlung]  Internet connectivity in the North-East is set to get the much-needed fillip.

In a boost to bilateral cooperation, the Bangladesh Government has granted in-principle approval to India’s proposal to connect Tripura with the international Internet gateway (South-East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 4 cable system) passing through Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar is 200-250 km from Tripura.

If implemented, this will help improve Internet services in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura. The region suffers from highly unstable tele-connectivity offered by the only optical fibre link, passing through Chicken’s Neck, to Kolkata.
Proposed route

According to the minutes of a bilateral meeting on telecom connectivity held on July 30, Bangladesh has expressed its “willingness to establish telecom connectivity not only with the north-eastern States of India but also with other land-locked countries such as Nepal and Bhutan.” The proposed connectivity would be through Chennai to the North-Eastern States (excluding Assam) via Cox’s Bazar, on submarine (deep sea) cable. Assam, which is catered through a dedicated line, is excluded from the route.

Geographical proximity of Cox’s Bazar to the north-eastern States and the location of Bangladesh’s only submarine cable landing station there (required for laying an optical fibre) were the two factors that were considered at the time of proposing the route connectivity plan.

It was also decided in the bilateral meeting that detailed technical and commercial aspects (of the route, cable requirements and so on) would be worked out jointly by state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and two Bangladesh government-owned companies: Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) and Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL).

BTCL and BSCCL are controlled by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

BSNL, on its part, has proposed the provisioning of optical cables to “zero point” at the India-Bangladesh border near Agartala (Tripura) and Akhaura (Bangladesh). The provisioning is expected to help establish better connectivity in two routes — one between Agartala and the submarine cable landing station at Cox’s Bazar and the second between Agartala and Dhaka.

BSNL will be leasing Internet bandwidth (in multiples of 10G) each from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Co and Bangladesh Telecommunications for the routes.

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