Robi gets scope to use BR’s fibre optic cable

HM Murtuza | Published: 00:11, Jan 01,2018

 
 

Robi Axiata Limited has availed the scope to use Bangladesh Railway’s fibre optic cable that was used by mobile phone operator Grameenphone exclusively for 20 years.
Mobile operator Robi would now be allowed to use Bangladesh Railway’s 412 kilometres of fibre optic cable as the operator won a tender floated by Railway, a senior official of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission told New Age last week.
To this end, Bangladesh Railways and Robi have already signed a lease agreement between them, paving way for the latter to strengthen its network connectivity across the country.
After the agreement, BTRC, however, refrained from allowing Robi to install fibre optic cables to establish connection with Bangladesh Railway’s point-of-presence, the BTRC official said.
Instead, the commission suggested Robi take support from Railway in establishing connection as the NTTN licensing guidelines and infrastructure sharing guidelines do not allow any entity other than the NTTN licensee to develop fibre optic cable, he said.
An official of Robi said unless the operator gets connected with the fibre optic cable, it would not be able to enjoy its benefits.
On the other hand, Bangladesh Railway floated the tender for 412 kilometres of fibre optic cable that was developed by Railway after the contract was signed with GP.
While, GP’s exclusivity over 1,600 kilometres of Railway’s fibre was still in place as the contract agreement, between the entities that gave GP exclusive rights over Railway’s fibre, revision process was yet to be completed.
Officials of BTRC said the regulator has been conducting a need assessment on how much optic fibre cable would be required for GP, which might be finalised soon.
Meanwhile, Railway and GP has been working jointly to amend the agreement between them so that the cable could be leased to other entities including the mobile phone operators.
Grameenphone gained the exclusive rights over Railway’s cable under an agreement with the then-railway division to use, maintain and run the business operation of their fibre optic cable after winning an international bid in the year 1997.
The government in 2016 took the initiative to open the fibre optic cable for all other mobile phone operators by asking Bangladesh Railway and GP to amend the agreement.
In 2014, Bangladesh Railway got NTTN from BTRC, allowing the state-run entity to operate NTTN business.
Since 2008, when the NTTN licensing guidelines was introduced, none other than the NTTN operators were allowed to lay fibre optic cable.
Currently 55,370 kilometres fibre optic cable has already been laid by mobile phone operators along with five NTTN operators including Summit Communication, Fibre@Home, BTCL, Power Grid Company of Bangladesh and Bangladesh Railway.
From the mobile phone operators, Banglalink has ownership of 3,001 kilometres fibre optic cable, while GP has 2,490 kilometres, Citycell 1,127 kilometres, Robi and Airtel collectively 831 kilometres, and state-owned Teletalk 101.8 kilometres.

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