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Telecommuications systems went down for almost two days
The Daily Star
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Internet and international telecom services were disrupted from early Thursday as miscreants snapped the fibre optic line near Cox's Bazar that connects the country to the submarine cable, sources said.
The disruption deprives the line's owner -- Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) -- of a revenue of $70,000 per hour.
BTTB sources said miscreants cut the fibre optic line at two points -- about 60 metres off each other -- in Lohagara, 76km off Chittagong city.
"Apparently this is an act of sabotage because nobody stole the cable," said an official.
Restoration of the line started yesterday morning. But due to rain, it was being delayed. The line was restored at around 7:30pm, sources said.
Since the submarine cable was launched last year, miscreants snapped the fibre optic line for more than a dozen times in the same area. But there had been no such incident after the change of government in January this year.
Due to lack of a backup system, the BTTB's internet and telecom services become disrupted every time miscreants snap the line, and it incurs huge financial losses.
The BTTB has been pursuing a proposal for a back up fibre optic line for more than 18 months. According to its proposal, the BTTB has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) to use the PGCB fibre optic line as a back up. But without any genuine reason, the ministry is sitting on this proposal.
"PGCB's line is solid and there can't be any reason for delaying use of that line as a back up," said one source.
The BTTB has received a proposal from private phone company Bangla Phone to share its fibre optic line.
"But most importantly, the line now lacks supervision by experienced and efficient officials. The BTTB chairman recently made some important transfers against the opinion of BTTB members. One such case is transfer of BTTB director (satellite) Giasuddin to Dhaka from Chittagong. Another case is transfer of the official in charge of Cox's Bazar Submarine Cable Landing Station to Dhaka," noted the source.
Both the director (satellite) and the other official are experienced and specially trained to handle problems of the system. The officials who replaced them do not have experience or necessary training.
The director (satellite), who has been involved with the fibre cable installation project, is known for his technical efficiency in handling cable-related problems. This is why when the chairman ordered his transfer on August 6, the BTTB member (maintenance) formally objected to the order.
"The landing station demands a specialised officer because this deals with a system that facilitates talks with 14 countries through the submarine cable. Even the jargons used at the landing station are different from that in typical BTTB work," the source pointed out.
The official in question was given two special training courses abroad for eight months, especially to handle this landing station. "What is the justification of training someone and then assigning him to do an unrelated job?" the source questioned.
The submarine cable is Bangladesh's gateway to the international information highway. Different internet service providers (ISPs) use around 577 megabyte per second (mbps) from this cable while the BTTB uses it for VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)- based international calls. When this service is disrupted, the ISPs are forced to use V-Sat based backup system, which provides inadequate Internet bandwidth, and the BTTB's VoIP-based international calls remain suspended.
Date Posted: 8/25/2007
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