By Muhammed Zahidul Islam, The Daily Star

Questions have been raised over a move by Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL) to sell off half of its capacity to an Italian company at a very low price.

BSCCL has sent a proposal to the post and telecommunication division for approval to sell half the capacity of the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable to Telecom Italia Sparkels.

In February, the BSCCL board decided to sell four million MIU*km (minimum investment unit), which is equivalent to around 90 Gbps, at a price of Tk 16 crore for the rest of the lifetime of the cable. A submarine cable usually lasts 20-25 years, and this cable has been in operation since 2006; so, the Italian company may be looking to use the cable for 11 to 16 more years.

In addition, Italia Sparkels will pay BSCCL Tk 48 lakh a year to bear maintenance costs, as Bangladesh is still a member of the consortium -- SEA-ME-WE-4.

At present, BSCCL has a total capacity of 8.9 million MIU*km, which is equivalent to 200 Gbps.

The BSCCL cable is connected from France to Singapore and it is easy for the company to sell out capacity or connectivity from anywhere on this route.

However, telecom division officials and analysts are also raising questions over the bandwidth price and capacity.

The Italian company's price is around 60 times lower than the bandwidth export price to India, officials added.

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