Indonesian policy causing delays in the repair of SEA-ME-WE 5


Due to bureaucratic delays in Indonesia, Bangladesh may have to operate with less internet capacity for the rest of May while a damaged undersea cable is repaired. The cable is essential to Bangladesh’s internet connectivity; it was damaged in Indonesian waters last week. The repair schedule has been extended due to administrative obstacles in Indonesia, which could result in Bangladesh having one-third less internet capacity in May. For nations like Bangladesh, this circumstance highlights the effects of global regulatory issues on internet infrastructure and connectivity.

Indonesian policy causing delays in the repair of SEA-ME-WE 5
Indonesian policy causing delays in the repair of SEA-ME-WE 5

Over the previous weekend, damage was inflicted to the SEA-ME-WE 5 underwater cable in Indonesian seas in the Strait of Malacca. The first estimate for the repair process was two to three days because of the close vicinity of nearby cable ships and equipment. However, because of Indonesian administrative procedures, this schedule has already been prolonged by many weeks.
Local news outlets were informed by Bangladesh Submarine Cables Company (BSCPLC) General Manager for Operations and Maintenance Saidur Rahman that delays are being caused by bureaucratic procedures in Indonesia. According to the authorities, the repairs might not be finished until the third or fourth week of the subsequent month.

With more than 60 cables connecting to its coastline, Indonesia has become a major subsea center in Southeast Asia; nevertheless, the nation still has protectionist laws governing cable repairs carried out in its territorial waters. According to the government’s cabotage policy, ships owned and operated by Indonesians with Indonesian sailors are required to perform cable repairs.
In this area, cable repair delays are not unusual. The Sulawesi Maluku Papua Cable System (SMPCS), for example, had to wait two months for repairs to start in 2022 because the repair ship had to travel to the damage site and refuel while it was working on other projects.

Bangladesh is currently dependent on connectivity via its other undersea system, SEA-ME-WE 4, and terrestrial fiber links, which are mainly imported through India, as SEA-ME-WE 5 is temporarily out of service. Rahman pointed out that although the capacity loss of SEA-ME-WE 5 can be offset by utilizing SEA-ME-WE 4, extra bandwidth expenses would have to be paid for by the “concerned company,” which is yet to be identified.
TeleGeography’s underwater cable map shows that BSCCL is the only company from Bangladesh in the SEA-ME-WE 4 consortium, suggesting that it will likely be involved in overseeing other forms of communication while repairs are being made.


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