CDnet gets USTDA study grant for new subsea cable for Bangladesh

CDnet gets USTDA study grant for new subsea cable for Bangladesh

The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced on Tuesday that it has awarded a feasibility study grant to Bangladesh telecoms company CdNet Communications to explore construction of a new subsea cable to improve internet connectivity across the country.

According to a statement from the USTDA, the feasibility study will help CdNet assess options to identify the most strategic path for deploying the new cable system, dubbed Bangladesh International Submarine Cable (a.k.a. Bagha-1).

CdNet and the USTDA signed the grant agreement at the 6th Indo-Pacific Business Forum on Tuesday in Manila. CdNet has already selected Florida-based APTelecom to conduct the study.

The Bagha-1 cable will increase bandwidth available to internet users in Bangladesh, helping to expand high-speed internet connectivity in urban and rural areas as well as enhance the resilience of the country’s critical digital infrastructure, said CdNet director Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat.

“Bagha-1 would help bolster Bangladesh’s reliable and trusted connectivity to the world and unlock massive opportunities for emerging digital services including 5G services, international data centers and for international hyperscalers,” he said.

The news comes after Bangladesh’s internet connectivity was disrupted last month by a break in the SEA-ME-WE 5 submarine cable, knocking out two-thirds of the country’s international subsea capacity. Bangladesh’s only other sources of international connectivity are the SEA-ME-WE 4 cable, which provides 800 Gbps of subsea capacity, plus another 2.7 Tbps of terrestrial capacity via international terrestrial cable licence holders that import bandwidth from India.

Bangladesh Submarine Cables PLC (BSCPLC) – which owns stakes in SEA-ME-WE 4 and SEA-ME-WE 5 – is also a stakeholder in the SEA-ME-WE 6 cable, which is scheduled to be ready for service in 2025.

As for what the USTDA gets out of this, the agency said the Bagha-1 study “advances the goals of Biden-Harris Administration priorities” such as the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity Project Preparation Facility.

“Across the Indo-Pacific, USTDA is building a portfolio of subsea cable projects with partners like CdNet who are committed to expanding their countries’ broadband capacity through trusted subsea fiber optic cable systems,” said USTDA’s Director Enoh T. Ebong.


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