Beginning next year, should a disaster hit the country, Bhutan Telecom Ltd. would be able to maintain communication services without disruption, officials from the company said.

BTL general manager, Jambay Sither, said that the company expected to complete the development of Business Continuity Plan for Disaster Control (BCP) policy by the end of May this year.

BTL officials will visit Japan to learn about the implementation of the BCP.

Bhutan and the Japan signed an agreement on the project “Development of Business Continuity Plan for Disaster Control” under the technical assistance of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2017.

Jambay Sither said that following the earthquake that hit Bhutan in 2011, BTL realised the need to develop a business continuity plan for disaster control to ensure continued services.

“BTL then requested JICA through GNHC for assistance to provide and facilitate efficient network during disasters which led to the signing of the project,” he said.

While connectivity was most important during a disaster, communication networks were jammed making it difficult for the subscribers to call friends and families, he said.

BCP will help the telecom company deal with the disaster recovery process and communication congestion failures once implemented.

Officials from JICA Bhutan and Japan, Department of Disaster Management, Gross National Happiness Commission and BTL attended the meeting.

JICA’s chief representative, Koji Yamada, said that in absence of such measures, Japanese experienced difficulties in communication after the 2011 tsunami.

The general manager highlighted the progress under the project at the first joint coordination committee meeting of the project held yesterday.

He said that the development of telecommunications BCP basic policy, BCP countermeasures and action plans, and awareness on BCP within the company and to other relevant agencies were conducted through drills and seminars.

As a part of the project, BTL held four workshops on artificial intelligence and drone demonstrations to create awareness.

Jambay Sithar said that the company would use drones to restore connections where it was risky for the employees to do it manually.

After the completion of the project, which is expected to happen by the first quarter of 2020, BTL will share its expertise to government and private agencies.

Chimi Dema and Esori Waglay