Cable repairs to cause slow internet for 5 days

Internet users may face reduced speeds in some areas for five days starting from midnight today due to maintenance work on the submarine cable connecting Chennai to Singapore done by Bharti Airtel Limited.

The 3,100-killometre submarine cable, known as the i2i cable network, also connects Bangladesh's international internet gateway (IIG) operators with Singapore, industry operators said.

"Latency and congestion are likely to increase in some destinations, especially during the peak hours from 8:00pm to 1:00am," said Ahmed Junayed, secretary general, International Internet Getaway Association, Bangladesh (IIGAB).

Talking to The Daily Star last night he also said Bangladesh may experience outages of between 100 gigabytes per second (gbps) and 150gbps due to the equipment change of Airtel at their Seabone cable at the Singapore end.

Junayed, who is also the vice-president of Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB), said currently Bangladesh has 1,700gbps bandwidth.

"Therefore, outages of 100 to 150gbps bandwidth would not have much effect on internet usage," Junayed, also managing director, Level 3 Carrier Ltd (IIG), added.

The latency and congestion level in internet usage may be at a minimum level, he said.

The slowdown in internet speed was likely to have started from yesterday, but Airtel has informed its Bangladesh counterpart that they are likely to start the upgradation work from midnight today.

An IT expert, Junayed said major IIG operators have already taken some alternative arrangements to tackle the situation.

"We hope internet users will not face much problem from October 28 to November 1," he also said.

Md Emdadul Hoque, secretary-general of ISPAB, told The Daily Star that reduced speeds may be experienced and that too during peak hours.

He also said there would not be much of an effect.

"Because of the maintenance, there will be some interruption and high latency. But the internet will be there," he told The Daily Star.

There are 39 IIGs in Bangladesh. Of them, 25 to 30 are operational. Only the top three would be affected by the maintenance work, Emdadul said.

IIGs import bandwidth from abroad and sell them among ISPs. There are 2,100 licensed ISPs across the country.

The South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) 4 is an approximately 18,800 km submarine cable connecting Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria and France.

"The SEA-ME-WE 4 is up. There is no maintenance over it. Only those IIGs that are using the SEA-ME-WE 4 from Cox's Bazar to Chennai and then are connected to the I2I to reach Singapore would be affected," said an industry insider.

"Those that are connected to Cox's Bazar to Singapore through the SEA-ME-WE 4 would not be affected," he said.

The total number of internet subscribers rose 8.3 percent to an all-time high of 10.82 crore at the end of August, compared to February's 9.99 crore.

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