IT surely is good news for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services, as work on the second submarine cable is due to be completed in 2016. A Franco-Japanese joint venture is set to connect the country to a backup submarine cable, known as SEA-ME-WE-5, which once installed and made functional will ensure that the nation does not get disconnected as has often been the case. The fall back option apart, having a second submarine cable translates into seamless flow of data for end users. Presently, whenever the lone submarine cable gets disconnected, it plunges the country into “digital” darkness for up to eight days, an unthinkable scenario in today's globally connected world.
Although the new connection is slated to increase bandwidth up to 1,300 Gigabits per second (Gbps), there remain concerns whether users will be able to take advantage of the new speed. Given the experience with the first submarine cable, the state-owned Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd. (BSCCL) that has overseen the current submarine cable since 2008 only made 50Gbps available to customers, despite having at its disposal 200Gbps. That means 25 per cent utilisation with the rest of the market demand being met by private companies. With the market for bandwidth growing at an estimated 70 – 80 per cent per annum, questions naturally have arisen whether utilisation of bandwidth for the second cable will meet the same fate as the first. We hope not.