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1. Modern world is experiencing a new wave of revolution in the field of Information and
communication Technology. The revolution is dynamic, fast spreading and encompassing all
spheres of the society. The optic fiber technology is the most burning step to these revolutionary
changes in the information and communications system worldwide. The fastest way to transmit
information between continents is through undersea fiber-optic cable Submarine cable. Some of
these cables can transmit the equivalent of 62500 written pages per second. The proven
superiority of submarine fiber optics combined with the shortfalls and the complexities faced by
the existing satellite and microwave systems due to particularly unfavorable regional climatic
conditions in and around Bangladesh, the need to link that country to a global submarine optical
fiber telecommunication system as the backbone of choice for bulk information transport is now a
well talked out topic.
2. At present Information Technology (IT) is a subject of widespread interest in Bangladesh. The
recent connection of Bangladesh to the information super highway with Middle-East through
submarine cable was a long sought-after dream. This has brought Bangladesh to a platform, from
where the country can evaluate the prospects of its utilization and derive numerous benefits in the
sector of government, commerce, education and medical.
3. In this connection, this paper will make an attempt to highlight the background of laying
submarine cable, significance of submarine cable and development in regards to connection to
Bangladesh. While doing so, it will try to bring out the prospects of it in Bangladesh perspective
and also make an endeavor to find out the impact and benefits for Bangladesh. Finally, this paper
will recommend how the country can explore the maximum benefit out of it.
4. The aim of this paper is to analyze the background and significance of submarine cable and
evaluate its prospects and benefits in regards to Bangladesh.
5. Marine communications is one of the fastest growing areas of ocean technology worldwide.
Canadas seabed is being used increasingly for the laying of submarine fiber-optic
telecommunications cables to all parts of the globe. Current estimates are that 65 percent of all
international telecommunications traffic, such as telephone, e-mail, e-commerce, and internet
service, is carried by these extensive networks of high-speed submarine cables, with a global
value of about US$1 trillion per year. Owing to their lower cost and longer lifespan, submarine

fiber-optic cables have now largely taken over from satellites as the principal means of delivering
international telecommunications traffic.
6. The South East Asia Middle East and West Europe-4 (SEA-ME-WE4) is the fourth venture of a
multi-country submarine cable consortium connecting South East Asia, the Middle East and West
Europe. The SEA-ME-WE4 venture links 14 countries from Singapore to France via Malaysia,
Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
Tunisia, Algeria and Italy through 16 landing points. A map showing the connection is given at
annex A.
7. The fiber cable used in SEA-ME-WE4 is a 150 KV three conductor PEX cable constructed with
a submarine armoring of steel threads. As regards to dimensions, the cable will be the worlds
largest high voltage cable with a diameter of 200 mm and a weight of 70 kilo gram/meter. The
cable does not contain insulating oil and any cable damage will not involve the risk of polluting the
sea water.
8. Submarine cable system has the advantages of being less expensive per channel, dependable
and technically superior:
a. Enormous Bandwidth. The optical fiber has an enormous bandwidth which allows the
simultaneous carrying of voice, data, image and video signal. The optical carrier has a frequency
range from 10 13 to 10 14 Hz. The primary capacity of the double-paired SEA-ME-WE4 cable is
160 gigabits per second (Gbps), which can be expanded up to 1.28 terabits per second.
b. Immunity to Interference and Crosstalk. Communication channel in the Fiber Optic do not
suffer from interference and crosstalk. They form a dielectric and are therefore free from
electromagnetic interference.
c. Security. As light from a fiber does not radiate significantly, a transmitted optical signal cannot
be obtained non-invasively, thus ensuring a high degree of signal security. More so, it requires
huge arrangement to intercept and difficult to gather illegal intelligence.
d. Low Attenuation. Attenuation means the loss of signal strength in the process of transmission.
With losses as low as 0.2 dB/km, this feature alone has become a major advantage of optical
fiber as extremely wide repeater spacing (70 to 100km) may be used in long-haul communication
links. This in turn reduces both system cost and complexity.
e. System Reliability and Ease of Maintenance. Due to the low loss property, system reliability is
generally enhanced in comparison to conventional electrical conductor systems. As undersea laid
cable this demands less of maintenance after initial installation.


9. Bangladesh is finally joining the SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable network consortium and the
project is likely to be operational very soon. The network will span about 20,000 km across the
eastern and western hemispheres providing an ultra fast terabit per second connectivity.
Bangladesh will receive a 10 gigabyte bandwidth which is estimated to be enough for the
countrys next 10 years internet and telephony demands.
10. According to the deal submarine cable will land on Coxs Bazar in Bangladesh. Project also
includes installation of optical fiber link between Chittagong and Coxs Bazar along the highway,
upgrading the existing Chittagong and Coxs Bazar over electric grid line and other installations.
The project will cost 657 crore including the regular maintenance charge. This guarantees
Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Boards (BTTB) free landing access in Singapore,
Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy and France.
11. Construction work of the landing station facilities worth Tk 1.5 crore in Coxs Bazar started in
April 2005. Fujitsu and Alcatel Company have already finished installing all necessary equipment
in a landing station at Old T&T area in Zhilanga, Coxs Bazar.
12. Background. Bangladesh has one of the lowest tele-density in Asia, with a mere 0.6 lines per
100 people. In terms of phone connectivity, the charge of BTTB is one of the highest in the world,
approximately US$500.00 (in India US$60) for normal single telephone line connection.
13. Status Review of Bangladeshs Existing Telecommunication Networks. International and
internal communication of Bangladesh relies on IO-Inmarsat synchronous orbit satellites located
above the Indian Ocean. There are only four ground stations which are located at Moakhali,
Betbunia, Talibabad and Sylhet. The main load for intra-country traffic is carried by microwave
links. Fiber optic links are spreaded in some part of the country. Very Small Aperture Terminal
(VSAT) satellites are now in use for accelerating the internet facility. There are five licensed
private cellular-phone network operators in Bangladesh. Most of these were established to cover
the lack of availability of land-based networks in the country,
14. Gateway to Information Super Highway. The optic fiber technology brought revolutionary
changes in the information and communications system worldwide. The policymakers in
Bangladesh were reluctant to take up this technology due to fear of state secret leak-out initially.
The recent decision on linking with SEA-ME-WE-4 will pave the way for Bangladesh to
information super highway.
15. Bangladesh is among the countries with the lowest tele-density. Recent improvement in
communication sector will have a definite impact on the economic and social development of the

16. Globalization of Telecommunication Sector. Submarine cable will

lead to the globalization of telecommunication sector. The impact of globalization on the
telecommunication sector will lead to competition amongst investors, suppliers which hopefully
will result in reduction of prices. It will make the latest technology, expertise and know-how
available. Perhaps it will make the fragile economy like Bangladesh vulnerable to the onslaught of
external competition.
17. Reduction of Economic Divide. As telecommunication and Information and Communication
Technology facilities are not of limited access, therefore unlike access to ownership of land or
capital, the rich and the poor, the privileged and the underprivileged could have access to and
benefit from such facilities which would enable people of different strata to actively engage in
different types of economic activity and thereby reduce the economic divide between the rich and
the poor, the privileged and the underprivileged.
18. Foreign Investment. The telecommunication infrastructure will reduce the cost of local and
international phone calls to and from Bangladesh enabling the foreign companies to invest in the
country. It will have definite impact on the economy of the country.
19. Market Maker. Communication technology serves as a market maker. Due to lack of
communication access many nations miss opportunities
to take part in economic competitions worldwide. Increased telecom facilities will put Bangladesh
in the world map through enhanced domestic and global trade. This will pave the way for a
stronger economy. With advanced communication technologies in tandem with developed
countries, Bangladesh being a developed country can compete in the expanding global services
market on a more equal basis.
20. Impact on Export and Investment. Connection to information super highway will signify the
overall export and import environment prevailing in the country. The submarine cable link will also
provide the infrastructures for large scale software export and scopes for investment in the
Information Technology related services, like call centre, telemedicine and distance education at
overseas universities.
21. Potential Internet Business. Internet has opened up a new potential business like Business
Process Outsourcing. After connecting with submarine cable Bangladesh will enter into a new
horizon to establish internet business such as e-commerce, that would have greater impact on
built up of our economy and social structure - which is our core expectation.
22. Empowerment of People. The establishment of an internal microwave and terrestrial optical
fiber transmission network and linking it with the global information super highway through
submarine cable will usher in a new era of rapid and robust Information and Communication
Technology growth. Development and expansion of telecommunication facilities by itself and
through its impact on the expansion of Information and Communication Technology will lead to
empowerment of people through access to information. Through Internet access, information on

different matters like education, business, commerce, becomes very quickly and easily available.
Such access to information will lead to empowerment of people.
23. Poverty Reduction . By enabling people to have easy and quick access to different types of
information, development and expansion of telecom facilities and Information and Communication
Technology will enable people to develop capability and skills in different fields and thereby make
them more equipped to actively engage in different activity which would subsequently also help to
poverty reduction.
24. Conducive Environment for Higher Studies. Expanded communication horizon will facilitate
the environment of higher studies. Mass people from different walks of life will have an easy
access to the higher studies.
25. The modern world belongs to the world of information and communication technology. A good
communication system is the prerequisite for any development in future. Under sea submarine
cable has enormous technical significance. The recent connection of Bangladesh to the
information super highway with the Middle-East through submarine cable was a long sought-after
dream for all.
27. Marine communications is one of the fastest growing technology worldwide. It has connected
the all within the globe. It has opened the door to information super highway to all distant
countries through its extensive network. SEA-ME-WE4 with its network in South East Asia, the
Middle East and West Europe has connected Bangladesh to 16 landing points enabling it to have
a significant access to the world.
28. Submarine cable system has the advantage of being less expensive per channel, dependable
and technically superior. It has enormous bandwidth, low attenuation and system reliability. It is
less vulnerable to interference and crosstalk and thus provides a compact security.
29. Project to join the SEA-ME-WE4 is ongoing and likely to be operational very soon. The project
will cost Tk 657 crore. Bangladesh will receive a 10 gigabyte bandwidth which is estimated to be
enough for the countrys next 10 years internet and telephony demands. Coxs Bazar is the
landing station for Bangladesh and the existing infrastructure will be utilized as subsequent
gateway to the network.
30. Being one of the lowest tele-density countries Bangladesh has of let ventured to join the
submarine cable network. The communication system of the country basically depends upon four
satellite ground stations, microwave terminals and narrow fiber optic network. There are five
private cell-phone operators and internet communications primarily depends on Very Small
Aperture Terminal. The recent decision on linking with SEA-ME-WE-4 will pave the way for
Bangladesh to exploit the information super highway.

31. The advantages and benefits that telecommunication can bring in education, commercial,
medical and governmental activities are worth mentioning. Its expansion has a great impact on
Bangladesh in regards to economic and social development. Deployment of a better
communication system with the help of submarine cable will allow Bangladesh to access the
global telecommunication sector and thus help to explore the global market. It will facilitate the
foreign investment, export and import environment and internet business. It will serve as Market
Maker. It will explore the opportunities for higher studies, poverty reduction and reduce the
economic division within the people. Bangladesh's linking with global information superhighway
will create opportunities for setting up many development industries, attracting foreign direct
investment in Information and Communication Technology sectors and promote radical
advancement in the overall economy.
32. To derive the maximum benefit out of the Submarine Cable Project in Bangladesh the
followings are recommended:
a. To use the telecom infrastructure as the main vehicle of development and expansion of
Information and Communication Technology in the country, the fundamental policy guideline
should be to ensure equal participation of both the public and the private sector. This would be
necessary to ensure healthy competition and robust growth of the sector.
b. In a multi-operator regime, an Independent Regulatory Commission for the telecom sector,
namely the "Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission" established in January
2002 should have a strong and well-defined regulatory mechanism and should address the basic
issues like providing an even/level playing field for all operators, protecting the interest of the
consumers, devising a tariff structure suitable to the consumers and at the same time meeting the
requirement of the service providers/telecom operators.
Bhatiary, Chittagong


March 2006

Student Officer

A. Map Showing SEA-ME-WE4 Cable Route.
1. Jeff Hecht, City of Light: The Story of Fiber Optics, Oxford University Press, New York.

2. A. S. Khan, "Submarine Cable Debate: Governments Belated But Correct Decision", The Daily
Star, 2 September 2000.
3. Web: http://independent-bangladesh.com
4. Web: http://www.itbangladesh.com.
5. Web: http://www.itnowonline.com.