The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced Monday that it has awarded a feasibility study grant to Bangladeshi telecommunications company CdNet Communications Limited (CdNet) to expand reliable internet connectivity across Bangladesh through the development of the Bangladesh International Submarine Cable (Bagha-1).

CdNet is a company licensed under the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to build, operate and maintain Submarine Cable Systems and Services. 

The subsea cables in Bangladesh used to be monopolized by the Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL) which is a member of SEA-ME-WE4, SEA-ME-WE 5 and SEA-ME-WE 6 systems.

In 2022, the BTRC issued licences to establish, maintain and operate submarine cables to three Bangladeshi companies -- Summit Communications, CdNet Communications and Metacore Subcom Ltd.

CdNet is developing the Bagha-1 subsea cable to establish eastward and westward internet connectivity to support the national demand of 34Tbps by 2026 and subsequently the international demand from OTTs and Hyper users.

CdNet selected Florida-based APTelecom LLC to conduct the study.

USTDA and CdNet signed their grant agreement at the 6th Indo-Pacific Business Forum, where Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. provided keynote remarks.

“Across the Indo-Pacific, USTDA is building a portfolio of subsea cable projects with partners like CdNet who are committed to expanding their countries’ broadband capacity through trusted subsea fiber optic cable systems,” said Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA’s Director. “Our Agency helps to build a partnership-based ecosystem that leverages the resources and capabilities of project developers, the U.S. private sector, U.S. government agencies, financial institutions, and like-minded Indo-Pacific partners who are committed to the success of projects like Bagha-1.”

Subsea cables play a critical role in global communications. When implemented, the Bagha-1 cable will increase the bandwidth available to internet users in Bangladesh, helping to expand secure high-speed internet connectivity and enhance the resilience of the country’s critical digital infrastructure. USTDA’s study will assist CdNet in assessing options to identify the most strategic path for deploying a trusted subsea cable system in Bangladesh.

“Bagha-1 would help bolster Bangladesh’s reliable and trusted connectivity to the world and unlock massive opportunities for emerging digital services including 5G services, international data centers and for international hyperscalers,” said Dr. Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat, Director, CdNet. “We are proud to be part of this journey towards a more connected and prosperous future for Bangladesh.”

U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Peter Haas, said: “USTDA’s feasibility study will lay the groundwork for improved internet access and quality for the people of Bangladesh. We are proud to support a U.S. business, in partnership with a Bangladeshi one, in building a more connected Bangladesh.”

USTDA’s study advances the goals of Biden-Harris Administration priorities such as the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity Project Preparation Facility.