Connectivity: Bhutan could have its third link to the internet by 2017. However, it is yet to be determined from where this link would be established.

One of the main reasons why the country’s IT park was not able to attract any major international IT companies was the lack of true redundant or back up link to the internet.

Currently, while Bhutan does have two links to the internet through Gelephu and Phuentsholing, both links converge in Silliguri, which in a way eliminate the redundancy aspect. If connectivity in Silliguri is disrupted for whatever reasons, the possibility of both links becoming unavailable does exist.

The government has been attempting to establish a third link to the internet via Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh. Efforts have been ongoing for some years now.

“Tender process is ongoing to recruit a consultant to carry out feasibility studies on how best to bring in a truly redundant international connectivity to Bhutan,” Department of Information Technology and Telecom officiating director, Jigme Tenzing said. “The study will also look at bringing in connectivity through Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh through the north east states of India.”

He added that feasibility studies will be completed before June 2016.

The study will not only look at Coz Bazaar but other areas as well. “The consultant will study and find out other options, if any,” Jigme Tenzing said. “However, Cox’s Bazaar connectivity is of prime interest.”

Bhutan is most likely to have its third link to the internet by 2017. “At best, physical connectivity works will take at least nine months after the feasibility studies have been carried out and negotiations carried out with the Government of India and Royal Government of Bhutan,” Jigme Tenzing said.

Having a third link to the internet is expected to make Bhutan a more attractive destination for IT investment. “It will improve the reliability of international connectivity to Bhutan by providing an alternative exit route other than Siliguri which is currently the exit point of all our international connections,” Jigme Tenzing said. “This will help attract other IT/ITES FDI businesses to Bhutan.”

Bhutan’s total international bandwidth is around 5.65 Gbps (giga bits per second), with both Bhutan Telecom and Tashi InfoComm combined.

Gyalsten K Dorji