…both Bhutan Telecom Ltd and Tashi Cell internet was down for about seven hours yesterday

Yangyel Lhaden

Angry netizens lashed out at the two national telecom operators for the slow Internet. They poured out their frustrations on social media.

Bhutan Telecom Limited and Tashi Cell notified users that due to an international link failure, users might experience slow internet and that their counterparts were working to resolve it as soon as possible.

A TashiCell official said that the TATA fibre was down, but the Airtel fibre connection was still intact. “Since there is only one network operational, the speed of the internet is the same, but due to the traffic on one fibre, it has led to slow internet.”

The internet turned slow yesterday afternoon, and netizens faced slow connectivity issues, hindering their leisurely internet use. Others suffered at work.

An employee at Thimphu TechPark said that he couldn’t use any cloud services or communicate with his international counterparts yesterday. “Most of our work depends on the Internet, and we have strict deadlines.”

He said that working with international counterparts meant that prolonged internet outages could lead to significant financial losses.

“Ten years ago, it was only the FDI companies at Thimphu TechPark that were affected badly when the Internet connectivity got disrupted. But today, almost every organisation is badly affected. Reliable Internet connectivity is a must today.” Dr Tshering Cigay, ICT Domain Lead for Desuung Skilling Program said.  “We aspire to become a developed country within the next decade or so. For that, we have to start improving the reliability of our Internet connectivity, power supply and water supply. These are the key characteristics of a developed country.”

A CSO employee, Karma Wangchuk, said that it was challenging to work yesterday since almost 80 percent of their work depended on the Internet. “My office uses the internet for communication, coordination, and facilitating official matters.”

Despite the slow internet, he said that the service providers were working hard to fix the problem and that it wasn’t deliberate. “The internet is very crucial today.”

One civil servant said, “I usually communicate through WhatsApp voice messages for official or personal matters because it is cheaper.”

She said that because such apps were slow yesterday, she used talk time. “I had to call a second time to discuss important matters with my colleague, and only then did I hear from him.”

Users said that both internet and talk-time charges are expensive in Bhutan and at this age when everyone depends on these services, they should be made more affordable and efficient.

An employee at the Bank of Bhutan ( BoB) said that despite the slow internet yesterday, the bank’s services were not affected. “We did not receive any complaints regarding the disruption to our services. However, some customers might have faced delays in logging into mBOB and internet banking.”

An employee at TashiCell said that due to the international fibre breakage in Kolkata, third-party applications could be affected since the information has to be cached, and access to applications and websites of the country such as mBOB would not be impacted.

“Since it is international fibre, it will be fixed as soon as possible,” he said.

As of 8:30pm yesterday, he said that restoration of international links could take an additional two hours or potentially even longer. “Although one circuit is still down, most services are now operational, and we are actively working on fixing the other circuit.”

“We are coordinating with our partners to restore the services as soon as possible,” the TashiCell official said.

Bhutan Telecom internet services also resumed to normal last night at around 8:30pm.