The slow Internet speed and disruption of telephone calls for landlines are because of fiber cuts and reduced efficiency of the Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON), according to Bhutan Telecom (BT) officials.

GPON is a point to multipoint fiber access network, which caters to the landlines and broadband connections.

As of July this year, records show that BT has approximately 20,000 fixed line users, 16,000 broadband users, 370,000 pre-paid mobile users and 11,700 post-paid mobile users across the country.

Except for areas such as Semtokha and Dechencholing, the problem of telephone calls not going through and slow internet speed was experienced by those living in the parts of Thimphu who are connected to the GPON system.

General manager of marketing division with BT, Penjore, said, the number of new connections exceeded the capacities of the server and firmware, which caters to about 3,150 users in Thimphu.  “When we realised that the capacity was inadequate and was consequently making the system inefficient, we decided to go for an upgrade.”

The system was restored to normal on August 4 with both the server and firmware upgraded to cater to about 31,000 users.

Penjore said that since the start of thromde developmental activities, BT has been experiencing multiple fiber cuts due to excavation work, which added to the inefficient functioning of GPON system. “Most of Motithang and Changzamtog areas experienced not just reduced speed or call not going through but complete outage, as the fiber itself had been cut.”

However, he said that it was the migration of equipment that causes problems related to cell phones such as numbers remaining unreachable, conversations getting dropped, and one user not being able to hear the other.

Since March this year, BT has been moving its equipment, stationed in different locations to a newly constructed common building, Network Operation Center (NOC) to make maintenance work and finding faults easy. The official claimed that the new building is rodent, fire and earthquake proof.

While migrating, the equipment are also upgraded to have higher capacities.  “With the new and better system there are less chances of failure.”

The migration will complete by the end of next month and is expected to resolve the problems related to mobile phones.

To prevent such problems in future, BT will bring in another GPON system soon, so that if one GPON system gets faulty, the other one could take over without any delay.

Penjore said BT is committed to creating customer value and providing quality service and is consistently upgrading its systems.

“In doing so, glitches creep in sometimes despite our utmost caution, which adversely affects our quality of service,” he said. “BT would like to regret the inconvenience caused as a result of such doings and thank our valued customers for bearing with us.”

Karma Cheki