Connecting Bhutan to a third international Internet link from Bangladesh is flagged as a priority in the 12th Plan, information and communications minister DN Dhungyel said at the meet the press session yesterday in Thimphu.

Efforts and discussions to connect Bhutan to an alternate international Internet gateway from Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh began in 2015.

A survey team sent from the information and communications ministry in September 2016 to study the most economical and fastest route identified six routes.

Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said that Akhaura-Agartala-Guwahati-Samdrupjongkhar route was found to be the most economical. “We have communicated this to the government of Bangladesh and India. During my several visits to India and Bangladesh, I have been discussing with the counterparts at various levels and the response from these countries are very positive.”

The ministry is planning to import 10Gbps (giga bits per second) of bandwidth, which will be subsequently increased as demand grows.

Today, with both Bhutan Telecom and Tashi InfoComm combined Bhutan’s total international bandwidth is around 5.65 Gbps.

Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said that although the work for a third international link to Internet began a few years ago, the work has been delayed because of the involvement of three countries in the process.

He said the government is currently waiting for a correct costing from government of India to initiate the work. “Government of India after discussing with their service provider will be giving us the costing as to how much it might come up to land this additional bandwidth. Costing was the main factor that took a long time.”

However, because the 11th Plan is coming to an end, lyonpo DN Dhungyel said that taking the initiative forward would be difficult. “Because we have reached a mature state of getting the costing from India, we are quite hopeful that the we will be able to do it in the first few years of the 12th Plan,” he said.

Phurpa Lhamo