first_img.Bangladesh has come up with a proposal for an inter-state internet highway, to be dubbed the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (APIS). This proposed internet highway will connect 32 countries of the Asia-Pacific region through underground optical fibre cables. This will be the same length as the Asian highway, that is, 145,000 km. The Bangladesh part of this highway will be 1768 km.The proposal for this internet highway basically came from Bangladesh. The matter was discussed in detail at the United National Economic Social Commission for Asia-Pacific (UN-ESCAP) steering committee meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, last December. Representatives of India, China, Japan and other countries of the region were present at the meeting.Based on the decision taken at the meeting, a feasibility study is being carried out on the project. The prevailing telecommunication system in the region is basically dependent on the submarine cable which is significantly most establishment and maintenance than underground cables, pushing internet bandwidth costs in Asia much higher than that of Europe and North America. For example, in Singapore and Hong Kong, the MBPS (mega-byte per second) internet bandwidth cost on average is USD 1.79 and USD 1.83 respectively. Yet it Paris and New York this can be availed at USD .45 to USD .78 on average.If the APIS can be implemented, this will be the world’s largest terrestrial interstate internet network, providing speedy broadband internet in the region. More wholesale markets for bandwidth will be created, bringing prices down to the level of Europe and the US.According to a study of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Asia-Pacific region has the highest rate of digital disparity when it comes to the use of internet technology. Only 8 per cent of the region’s population has access to speedy broadband internet use, resulting in a large section of the population being deprived of using digital technology for education, health and financial transactions.According to official data, there are 80.8 million internet connections in Bangladesh with internet bandwidth usage being 500 to 550 GBPS (giga-bytes per second). That is why Facebook, Google and such organisations do not have servers in Bangladesh.Member of US-ESCAP’s APIS working and steering committee Abu Sayeed told Prothom Alo, the combination of submarine cable and underground cable in Europe and America’s inter-state telecommunication infrastructure has created stiff competition in the bandwidth market. The submarine cable is in the hands of limited number of government and private owners and so the Asian bandwidth market has been captured. That is why though Asia has the highest use of the internet, it is costly and has low bandwidth use per head. APIS will eliminate this discrimination.Abu Sayeed Khan went on to say, “Today we can use mobile phones at reasonable rates due to the stiff competition created by reforms in the telecommunications policy. APIS can also resolve the artificial crisis for bandwidth and render broadband easily available to all.”last_img

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