Submarine Cable Breakage Slows Internet

A submarine cable fault disrupted internet service in Bangladesh, impacting both businesses and individual users across the region.By Mahmudul Hasan, The Daily Star
April 21, 2024

Bangladeshi internet users are experiencing disruptions after the country's second submarine cable, SEA-ME-WE 5, the largest supplier of international bandwidth to Bangladesh, broke Friday night.

“The issue was identified at midnight. It will take at least two to three days to resume the connection,” Mirza Kamal Ahmed, managing director of Bangladesh Submarine Cables PLC (BSCPLC), told The Daily Star.

International bandwidth usage in Bangladesh now stands at around 5,200Gbps (Gigabits per second). More than half of it — about 2,700 Gbps — comes through international terrestrial cable (ITC) licence holders that import bandwidth from India across land borders.

The South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 5 (SEA-ME-WE 5) submarine cable installed in Kuakata supplies 1,700Gbps.

The undersea cable of the SEA-ME-WE 5 got broken in a spot between Singapore and Malaysia, the official said.

For that, all circuits of all members of the consortium got down, he added.

“So, a ship will be mobilised to repair and restore the service. The total operation will take minimum of two to three days,” he added.

The SEA-ME-WE 5 is a 20,000km submarine cable system connecting 17 countries through Points-of-Presence from Singapore to the Middle East to France and Italy in Western Europe.

The cable that lay on the eastern side that connected Singapore got broken, while the connectivity on the western side that connected France remained operational, he added.

For that, of the 1,700Gbps of bandwidth that comes through the system, only 100Gbps bandwidth will be supplied to Bangladesh.

The BSCPLC is now exploring ways to restore the circuits of SEA-ME-WE 5 with SEA-ME-WE 4, the country's first submarine cable installed in Cox's Bazar.

Nearly 800Gbps bandwidth is provided by the first undersea cable with which Bangladesh was connected in 2006. It currently supplies about 850Gbps bandwidth and its capacity has recently been upgraded to 3,800Gbps.

The BSCPLC is set to receive 13,200Gbps from a third undersea cable, SEA-ME-WE 6, by 2025.

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