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Tuesday, January 8, 2008
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Optical Fibre Cable-snap

BTTB group found active for illegal VoIP

A group of Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) officials were allegedly involved in the frequent snapping of the country's lone fibre-optic cable connection to the information super highway.

Sources in the intelligence agencies said the suspects arrested in this connection had admitted to the interrogators that they had links with BTTB officials. Intelligence agencies had been conducting a thorough investigation into the cable-snapping incidents.

Sources said the BTTB officials encouraged the illegal activity following drives against the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Law enforces allegedly detected the involvement of BTTB officials with VoIP businesses earlier.

The country's Internet and overseas telecom services had the last such disruption on November 13 for around 15 hours. The optical-fibre cable near Cox's Bazar and Feni was snapped. Since its installation in 2006, there have been 39 cases of disruption. BTTB had claimed the disruptions were "an act of sabotage".

Talking to The Daily Star Lt Col Zia Ur Rashid Safdar, general manager (security and surveillance) of BTTB, said, "As far as I know, the

matter is under investigation. So, at this moment it is difficult to say who had committed the crime."

Intelligence sources, however, said they would continue their investigation until they find the "big fish" behind the snapping of the fibre-optic cable.

Sources said a number of BTTB officials pocketed large amount of money in the name of fibre-optic cable maintenance. They said the officials withdraw allocated budget before doing any maintenance work.

The optical-fibre cable is 433 km long and installed only a few feet below road-side surface along with the cable of Grameenphone and AKtel. Interestingly, only the BTTB fibre-optic cable is repeatedly disrupted.

BTTB loses revenue of $70,000 per hour with every disruption. The BTTB invested $35.1 million for the submarine cable.

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