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Bengal on IT highway

Calcutta, March 30: After years of struggle, Bengal has received the Centre’s nod for a sub-sea cable landing station that is expected to be located at Haldia, in one stroke expanding many times over the state’s potential for generating information technology business.

In a letter to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Union communications minister Dayanidhi Maran has said: “I have issued instructions that the location of the cable landing station should be in Bengal. The feasibility study for the same is likely to be completed and the work taken up in the next six months.”

The sub-sea optical fibre cable will link a coastal point ' the state government prefers Haldia but it could be somewhere else also ' of Bengal to Singapore. It will make available higher bandwidth for IT and IT-enabled services.

Bandwidth is like a road, or what Bill Gates calls the information superhighway, through which voice and non-voice data travels.

The choice of Bengal for the fourth such international cable landing station represents a major victory for Bhattacharjee who had to fight off pressure from the southern lobby to locate it in Chennai.

Maran himself belongs to Tamil Nadu, which, like Bengal, is going to the polls next month. What might have gone against Chennai is the fact that it already has a landing station. The Left’s influence in Delhi would have helped, too.

The eastern region was the only one that didn’t have a landing station thus far. The two others are located in Mumbai and Kochi.

Maran’s letter to Bhattacharjee says: “I would, therefore, request that your government may kindly extend all possible co-operation so that a suitable station in West Bengal is identified, and the site handed over by the state government, facilitating initiation of immediate work by MTNL/BSNL.”

The feasibility study to find the location will start in April and is expected to be completed by September.

G.D. Gautama, the principal secretary in the IT department, said: “Since we did not have a landing station in Bengal or, for that matter, in the entire eastern region, we decided to take up the issue with the central government.”

Once the station is established, not only will bandwidth expand, but the cost of connectivity will also drop by 10 to 25 per cent.

“Having a landing station will lead to a significant decrease in connectivity costs, which is so vital for us, along with increased bandwidth and more reliable connectivity,” said Amitabh Ray, director, IBM Global Delivery Services.

Bengal had been talking to the Centre for almost three years about the cable link. Bhattacharjee had also written to the Prime Minister on August 9.

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