India’s third International Internet Gateway (IIG) in Agartala through Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh has accelerated internet connectivity in the mountainous northeastern region, a BSNL official said. “Using the 3rd IIG (in Tripura capital Agartala), internet connectivity in the eight northeastern states, including Sikkim has become faster and internet users have benefited to a large extent,” BSNL General Manager J. Ravichandra told reporters. He added, “To access the 3rd IIG, necessary technical linkages in Shillong (Meghalaya), Aizawl (Mizoram) and Guwahati have been completed. Links to Kolkata and other northeastern states will be completed very soon.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, along with Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, on March 23 inaugurated the 3rd IIG through videoconferencing from their respective offices in New Delhi, Dhaka and Agartala. Also Read - BSNL launches a new cheap Rs 499 broadband plan to take on Airtel Xtreme, JioFiberAlso Read - BSNL offers 100 minutes free calling with select plans to aid COVID-19, Cyclone Tauktae affected users
The Agartala IIG is the third such Internet gateway after Mumbai and Chennai. Ravichandra said Bangladesh State Minister for Telecommunications Tarana Halim recently visited Tripura and held a meeting with BSNL officials and discussed more cooperation between her country and India in the telecom sector. India has spent Rs 19.14 crore to create the infrastructure for the third IIG in Agartala to get the 10 gigabit bandwidth from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL). For this, optical fibre cable (OFC) link has been established between Akhaura (along Agartala) and Cox’s Bazar.
India has to give around Rs 8 crore per year as rental to the BSCCL. If the demand increases, BSNL will avail up to 40 gigabit bandwidth using the same infrastructure. Earlier, the northeastern states got internet connectivity through Mumbai and Chennai IIGs, but long distance created problems like very slow speed and drop of linkages. Meanwhile, a media report in Bangladesh said Bhutan too is keen to import internet bandwidth from Bangladesh. “Bhutan will send a delegation to Bangladesh by November to finalize the amount of bandwidth to be exported, price and route,” the reports said quoting Tarana Halim.
“To export bandwidth to Bhutan, Bangladesh would have to use Indian territory; fibre optical cable would also need to be laid. Halim got a positive response from India when she discussed the issue with Indian Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha last week,” the report said. During Halim’s visit to Delhi last week, she received the first cheque for $275,000 from BSNL as bandwidth export rental price. Bangladesh has a 200 gbps bandwidth connection with the submarine cable: South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4), but the country uses only around 130 gbps now.