The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has embarked on an initiative to remove overhead Internet and satellite television cables from different areas of the city as part of its city beautification programme.
At the end of last week, the DSCC conducted separate drives at Mirpur Road, Gulistan, Bangabazar and Anandabazar and removed Internet cables worth around Tk80-100 crore.
The move seems to be a good initiative, though concerned stakeholders criticised the action, terming it as "a good move at a wrong time".
They said the current situation does not permit this drive as the Iternet has become more important now when compared to six months ago.
With people stuck in their homes during the pandemic, activities like working, learning, shopping, entertainment and even court proceedings have shifted online, quickly becoming the new normal for most.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country, Internet usage has increased by up to 30 percent, according to industry insiders.
The Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (Ispab) and Bangladesh Mobile Phone Consumer Association protested the DSCC's operation, saying people will suffer due to the severance of their Internet connections.
MA Hakim, president of Ispab, told The Business Standard that people will have to come out of home to meet their daily demands if their Internet connections are cut off.
"We are not against the city's beautification, but we want that this should be done in a more planned manner so that users don't need to suffer."
"We have a meeting with the DSCC authorities tomorrow. There we will try to find out better ways to conduct the drive," he added.
When asked, Md Rasel Sabrin, deputy secretary and chief estate officer of the DSCC, could not cite any reason behind the drive in the current emergency period.
He requested The Business Standard to contact the DSCC mayor instead.
However, DSCC Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh could not be reached despite repeated attempts to contact him.
Why cables hang overhead?
Removal of overhead cables has been in the planning for a decade. In 2009, the power division and the city corporation decided to remove the overhead cables.
In July last year, a meeting was held with the prime minister's ICT adviser in this regard where a decision was made to set up a last-mile distribution plant (LDP) between two high-rise buildings.
But Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) and Nationwide Optical Fibre Telecommunication Transmission Network failed to execute that plan.
In the capital's Dainik Bangla-Motijheel-Ittefaq area, around 12,000 offices are providing Internet through 50 LDP or distribution points, which is the main reason behind the hazardous overhead cables.
Internet service providers claimed they have no alternative but to give overhead connections due to a lack of transmission infrastructure.
They also said they are being put under pressure and harmed by the government instead of the NTTN being taken to task.
In the latest two days' drive, the industry has sustained almost Tk80-100 crore worth of damage due to the removal of the overhead cables, claimed Ispab.
However, NTTN claimed they have enough infrastructure to take the overhead cables underground.
Fiber@Home Limited -- one of the leading NTTN firms -- claimed there are some cases where distribution points do not even get users.
Aktar Ul Alam, chief information and operations officer (CIOO) of Fiber@Home, however, said the firm can help Internet suppliers if they get a projection of usage from the ISPs.