Enabling ecosystem for the growth of the ICT sector

GovTech agency working on the Third Internet Gateway

With India and Bangladesh agreeing to provide the cost of internet for the third gateway at USD 3 per Megabits per second (Mbps) and USD 1.5 per Mbps, currently the government technology (GovTech) agency is working with the telecom operators to take the operation forward and waiting for their response.

An official from the GovTech agency said that the agreed route for the third gateway will run through Gelephu-Agartala, India – Comilla, Bangladesh – Kuakata, Bangladesh – Singapore.

“Once all parties have finalized the necessary arrangements, the third gateway will be implemented promptly, and the link is anticipated to be commissioned very soon after the acceptance of the current offer by the telcos,” said the official.

Meanwhile, the official said that the agency is yet to work out the estimation cost of establishing the internet gateway and will have more details once the government level agreements are reached and the operators start discussing the terms at their level.

“The operational cost will be determined based on the total bandwidth subscribed,” said the official, adding that what is being done today is finalizing the government level agreement where the telecom operators are also consulted.

Currently the country has three nationwide Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with international Internet gateways, that is, Bhutan Telecom, Tashi Infocomm and NANO through the Siliguri corridor in India.

“At present, all of our internet gateways pass through the Siliguri corridor, which makes our connectivity more susceptible to disasters,” said the official, adding that in 2019, our country experienced a total blackout for two to three days, which emphasized the significance of having a redundant and reliable international link.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), to harness the full power of information and communication (ICT), it is critical to address redundancy, reliability, security and cost of internet connection in Bhutan.

The third internet gate way will not only reduce the costs and bridge the digital divide but will also facilitate in empowering the creative industry and go a long way in addressing piracy and copyright issues, amongst others.

With the third internet gateway, the eastern Dzongkhags (districts) will also be benefited and will help to connect remote pockets of the country. Aside from that, the internet will be faster and will play a vital role in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and employment generation.

Similarly, other benefit includes in reducing wholesale rates levied to small internet service providers (ISPs) by the two telecom operators, and, therefore, the cost of leased internet line may reduce in the country over the time. 

Currently, the country is paying USD 7 per Mbps for internet connection through the Siliguri corridor. Meanwhile, after the establishment of the third internet gateway, the country would be paying USD 1.5 per Mbps to India and USD 3 per Mbps to Bangladesh for the internet connection through the third gateway.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu