All Eggs In One Basket

December 19, 2008
By

Once again, Internet and Telecom connectivity from Bangladesh to the outside world is severely disrupted, and it may not return to normal levels until the end of the year.

Bangladesh connects to the global Internet through one fiber-optic undersea cable: SEA-ME-WE-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe cable 4). Until November 22 of this year, connectivity over this cable has been disrupted 22 times. 21 times the cable that connected to SEA-ME-WE-4 was cut inside Bangladesh, and once under the sea. But that has happened again: the cable has been cut near Alexandria, Egypt, very near the previous cut.

The typical culprit in these undersea cuts are anchors from ships but Egypt is claiming there were no ships in the vicinity this time.

The immediate impact is being felt by expatriates trying to call Bangladesh, or people trying to call out of Bangladesh to international destinations. Instead of gigabytes of bandwidth over the submarine cable, BTCL (former BTTB) and the three other International telecom gateways are working with only megabytes of capacity through VSATs. In BTCLs case, the capacity dropped from 1800 MBps to 240 MBps. BTCL and the other IGWs carry about 5 million minutes per day under normal conditions, which dropped to about 650,000 minutes. The result? Inconvenience for callers, lost revenue for BTCL and the other IGWs, and a near-fatal blow for the nascent call center industry in Bangladesh.

10 to 50 seat call centers have been in operation in Bangladesh for the last few months, and some of them were serving international customers. Now most of those call centers, without dedicated VSAT connections, have fallen silent. And when Monday comes, the hapless call center owners will have to answer to some very irate clients–clients who will not care that this was a global connectivity problem. Many of those clients will go to other call centers in other countries and never return, leaving our call center owners stuck with their investments.

Which brings us to the title of this post. This time, it was not sabotage inside Bangladesh, or even a local accident. Four different cables have been cut, deep under water, and lots of other countries are facing connectivity loss too. But there is a big difference: they are not connected to only one cable, so while they may lose 50% or 33% of their connectivity if one cable goes down, they don’t experience the 87% capacity loss experienced by Bangladesh.

Will the next government put properly thought-out submarine cable redundancy on their one year plan? Three year plan? Hello? Hello? He….[disconnected].

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J @ Shada Kalo [http://shadakalo.blogspot.com] writes using a pseudonym and is best known for exposing government, military, corporate foul plays through whistle-blowing investigative reports.

[Read posts by J @ Shada Kalo]

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2 Responses to All Eggs In One Basket

  1. EDI
    January 9, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Wow. very interesting post. YOu think of the web being something as wireless. It is neat to think of the internet physically connecting every place in the world. Good stuff!

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