ICT: A team of technical experts will visit Bangladesh in two to three months to study all aspects of the proposed deal of importing internet bandwidth from the country.

A meeting between the information and communications minister DN Dhungyel and Bangladeshi state minister for post and telecommunications, Tarana Halim, to discuss this issue was held in Thimphu on August 1.

Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said: “Bhutan is exploring possibilities of importing additional internet bandwidth from Bangladesh.” He said both countries will field technical teams to work out the details.

He said there will be something concrete by October, after which a decision on whether or not Bhutan will import bandwidth will be taken.

He said the two countries also need the involvement of India for sealing a possible deal.

The country currently has only two links to the internet, one through Gelephu and the other through Phuentsholing. But both converge in the Indian city of Siliguri, West Bengal, which means Bhutan lacks back up connectivity to the internet. “If there is a problem at Silliguri there will be problems,” said Lyonpo DN Dhungyel.

The visiting Bangladeshi state minister, Tarana Halim, told Kuensel she wants to develop a strong cooperation in the telecommunications sectors of the two countries. “I was thinking there was not much cooperation in the telecommunications sector,” she said.

She added that Bangladesh is ready to sell the country’s extra bandwidth to Bhutan and enhance relations.

“The technical teams will determine which route will be cheaper and faster,” she said. “The teams will come up with a formula on how Bhutan will import bandwidth from Bangladesh.”

She said the deal will enhance trilateral cooperation among Bhutan, India and Bangladesh.

The Bangladeshi government in 2014 decided to sell or “export” half the country’s bandwidth to any country in the region, given that it was hardly using any of it.

According to a media report, Bangladesh currently has a 200 GBPS connection to the submarine cable – South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4). A Bangladeshi media outlet quoting Tarana Halim wrote most of the bandwidth has remained unused.

It reported that Bangladesh is exporting 10 GBPS to India’s Tripura state now through Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited at a price of Tk 94.2 million annually.

MB Subba