Bhutan’s dream of digital transformation would fully materialise once we have the third international internet gateway. Information and communications technology (ICT) is changing the way the world function, but harnessing the full potential of ICT would depend on reliable internet connection. 

The two networks we have today are from India. It helped transform Bhutan. The third connection would help in making the country an attractive destination for foreign direct investment in IT and IT-enabled services and employment generation. It will resolve the issues of redundancy, reliability, security and price.

But we have been discussing this alternate internet gateway from Bangladesh since 2015. It is becoming like the Bhutanese “yak and buffalo” folktale where the buffalo is waiting, forever, for the yak to return with salt. 

Officials from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) claimed that Bangladesh has confirmed providing a 10 Gbps International Private Leased Circuit to Bhutan at a friendly rate of USD 3 per Mbps. Like the buffalo, many are waiting for the third gateway to happen.

 If negotiations to bring the connection from Gelephu-Agartala, India-Comilla, Bangladesh-Kuakata, Bangladesh-Singapore have started, people deserve to know the details of the negotiations and when we would actually receive the third internet gateway.

It’s also time the government and relevant agencies tell people the details of negotiations with Indian counterparts. We have been told this since 2011.  

Access to uninterrupted and reliable internet has become more important today. The government of the day has a digital flagship programme. We are digitalising many services. Internet congestions during the lockdown is an evident how much we need the third internet gateway.

The parliament’s public account committee already recommended the government to bring the connection during this five-year plan and the joint sitting endorsed it. It was also flagged as a priority.

Past experiences have shown how the entire country suffers when the two gateways are disrupted. 

For a landlocked nation like ours, good neighbours like India and Bangladesh have always helped us overcome our geographical disadvantages. For the successful connection of the third internet gateway link, we need their support again.

Bhutan’s technological advancement and digital transformation would foster bilateral relationships.