July 5, 2009

Overhead Optical Fiber: Spider Web of Digital Dhaka

Scene 1: Just after the Eid day last year, when I reached Green road intersection to buy some flowers, I found hundreds of optical fiber was broken due to a collapsed lamp post, severely affected by sudden storm. Cables were all over the places. It took around a week or so to reinstate all the cables with several teams functioning successively.

Scene 2: A friend of mine from CityCell, the CDMA mobile operator in Bangladesh, called me few months from now and informed me that one of the Electricity Pole in front of Disaster Management and Relief Bhaban, at Mohakhali was in fire. When I visited that place, I found fire service employees were breaking all the optical fiber for preventing fire to spread.

Scene 3: While passing through streets of Dhanmondi, several times
I found Dhaka Electricity Supply Authority (DESA) personnel to disconnect optical fiber and DSL cables of different operators as they used Electricity Pole without any prior permission.

If Digital Bangladesh is a dream, Digital Dhaka is already a reality. Mobile operators have excellent coverage in terms of Voice and Data. Numbers of Telecom towers are significant. ISPs operating with wired and wireless connection have dense city wide coverage. So it is relatively straightforward for Telecom operators and ISPs to provide any type of connectivity as a last mille solution according to user’s convenience. But wired network, particularly spider web of overhead optical fiber based network has converted the roads of Dhaka to a living hazard.

If you are inhabitant of Dhaka, it may be a regular scene for you to find people working by the road side, occupied in restoring broken optical fiber. Often the fracture happens due to the involvement of Dhaka City Corporation or DESA. Often Sabotage happens and natural disaster also plays a vital role for such calamity.

Often Sabotage derails telecommunications transmission optical fiber cable links between Dhaka and Chittagong for which Submarine cable subscribers in Dhaka got disconnected in numerous times. Occasionally one needs to break other cables to find their own one in between a mass number of hazardous cable systems. Each day several organizations deploy overhead cable for their network and number of fiber/ fiber roll is increasing by an alarming rate. On the other hand, on an average each splicing costs around Tk. 300 and you can only assume the numbers.

At present the metropolitan cities and towns are cluttered with hazardous overhead Optical fiber / cables and there are excess optical fiber / wired networks in the same area by the multiple operators causing drainage to the national resources. Therefore, to de-clutter the city areas and towns & minimizing the wastage of national resources, Fiber @ Home Limited, a local firm, working rapidly in the country to expand optical fiber-based Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN).

Fiber @ Home will stretch optical fiber network across the country through NTTN and gradually help remove the use of overhead cables in cities and towns. NTTN is a common network through which all service providers like mobile companies, PSTN operators and ISPs can provide their services. As a result, separate network for each service provider will not be required. Subsequently, operation and maintenance cost will come down significantly, which ultimately benefit the customers.

According to my knowledge BTCL also has underground tunnel for its own purpose and they are only using a fraction of their capacity. So it is possible for them to rent their capacity to help prevent the overhead cable. At the same time, most of the mobile operators have underground optical fiber which they can also share with others.

It will be great for the city, if such situation turns out. But is it realistic? Only time will say. Already operators deployed hundreds of kilometers of fiber costing millions. Will they agree to just rip of the existing system and take service from others? After all they can’t get the service for free. If government intervenes, there must be a huge protest which will make situation more complicated.

But what ever take place, there is no question that overhead optical fiber system has transformed the Dhaka city as a large junk yard. Tilottoma Dhaka has long gone with the inclusion of millions of people, mountains of high rise buildings and ever increasing traffic jam. To me, hazardous Overhead fiber just struck the final nail in the coffin.

By the way, I have no clue about such hazard in other parts of the world. If you have any idea, your comments will be highly appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Very useful and informative article.. Brings forth the public hazard that is caused by the overhead cables. This just seems to be another cost in the pursuit of Digital Dhaka.

shahed said...

is BTS in crowded residential ares harmful for health?

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