Internet services across the country suffered serious disruption due to damage done by an excavator on the country’s second submarine cable line yesterday.
The underground cable line was damaged at Patuakhali’s Alipur area around noon when workers were lifting earth with the excavator, said Deputy General Manager of Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) Mohammad Tariqul Islam.
He said the workers pulled out 25 feet of cable line with the excavator from five feet below the surface while lifting earth from a farmland belonging to an upazila parishad chairman.
Tariqul Islam also said the damage was so extensive that it would not be possible for them to immediately repair it.
“We have three metres additional cable in a handhole. Since around 25 feet of cable have been uprooted, it would require technical and equipment support from Dhaka to repair it,” Tariqul told our Patuakhali correspondent.
The land where the incident took place, belonged to Latachapli UP chairman Ansaruddin Molla. He told The Daily Star that it was a mistake on the part of the workers. He also said that he was “sorry” for the accident.
The cable line provides nearly 40 percent of the total bandwidth used in the country. And due to the damage, consumers have been experiencing slow internet service.
Earlier, BSCCL Managing Director Moshiur Rahman told Prothom Alo that excavators have damaged the power line and optical fibre of the submarine cable system called South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 5 (SEA-ME-WE 5).
The Daily Star tried to communicate with him over phone and also over text massages, but the BSCCL MD did not respond. Rahman told Prothom Alo that they were working on assessing the extent of damage.
“We can say when the service will be normal only after the assessment,” said BSCCL MD Rahman, who rushed to the spot in the south-central district immediately after the incident, adding that the damage was a cause for serious concern for the country.
He also said that the submarine cable is rooted deep beneath the surface.
“We will file cases against those who have damaged it,” he said.
The 20,000-kilometre cable system connects 19 countries from Singapore to France. Bangladesh became connected with the SEA-ME-WE 5 through the second cable landing station in Patuakhali’s Kalapara in 2017.
The country receives a bandwidth of 1,500 gigabyte per second from this cable system. Bangladesh was connected with a submarine cable line (S-M-W-4) for the first time in 2005.
International Internet Gateway (IIG) operator Fibre@Home‘s Principal Technology Officer Sumon Ahmed Sabbir said the country gets around 30 to 40 percent of its bandwidth through the second submarine cable line.
He also said the problem of slow internet speed at the consumer’s end would persist until the damage was repaired.