Four Int’l firms in race to build third submarine cable

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The country had connected with the first undersea cable SEA-ME-WE 4 in 2006 and with the second one SEA-ME-WE 5 in 2017

Four international firms are in the race to set country’s third submarine cable under the SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium to meet the country’s growing demand for data consumption.

Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL) officials said the tender for the job would be finalized in Singapore this month at the consortium meeting. 

A three-member team of BSCCL would join the meeting to evaluate the tender proposal of the interested companies. 

The USA-based SubCom, Japanese NEC, French Alcatel Submarine Network and Chinese Huawei Merin expressed interest to build the third undersea cable.

“The four companies were asked to submit tender this month. The consortium will evaluate the tender from January 6-16 in Singapore,” BSCCL Managing Director Mashiur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday.

He said after the evaluation the report would be submitted to the board. “We will take final decision based on the evaluation report,” he added. 

The country had connected with the first undersea cable SEA-ME-WE 4 in 2006 and with the second one SEA-ME-WE 5 in 2017.

SEA-ME-WE stands for South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe as the cable connection are established through those regions.

Bangladesh, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the UAE, Djibouti, Egypt, Turkey, Italy, France, Myanmar and Yemen are the consortium member of SEA-ME-WE-6.

Last year, the government asked the BSCCL to start its process to establish connection with a third undersea link as the 20-year lifespan of the first submarine cable will end in 2026. 

BSCCL sources said the cost of SEA-ME-WE-6 would be around Tk610 crore and the project was scheduled to end on 2023. 

From this connection, the country will receive bandwidth at a speed of five terabytes per second. 

Earlier in March, BSCCL received proposals from two Singapore-based companies – SingTel and SigMar – to set up connection for the country’s third undersea.

The country’s current consumption is about 1.2 TBPS per year, of which 670 Gigabits per second is supplied by the BSCCL and the rest by India.

The government had spent about Tk500 crore for the first submarine cable connection.

The second cable cost the country Tk660.64 crore and the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank lent $44 million for the project, which the BSCCL started to pay back from this year. 

In the early 1990s, Bangladesh had rejected a proposal for free connection with the SEA-ME-WE-3.d