Experiences from Bangladesh trip

So last month I had a wonderful trip to Bangladesh for bdNOG. This is bit delayed.  

Some thoughts on infrastructure

  1. In terms of infrastructure - roads & traffic, power, quality of builds - it seemed like India in 2000’s.
  2. Specifically roads and traffic was bit terrible and even as an Indian (who manages to drive in Indian traffic!) I still got scared out of traffic in Dhaka. Speeds, roughness and overtaking is pretty high.
  3. There was no Uber and app based services are still pretty low. It was mostly usual “yellow taxi” which one had to call. (And it was expensive by local standards).
  4. There was excessive, just excessive amounts of overhead cabling in Dhaka and most of key city areas. It’s worth noting that there is way more overhead fiber than India. I guess most of it was running “active ethernet” based solutions (not a PON).  Most was just via media converters on both ends.
  5. I got 30Mbps speeds in cheap budget hotel in Dhaka which was more higher then what I have ever seen in India! (Speedtest here)
  6. Bangladesh currently is connected to outside world via SEA-ME-WE4 (landing at Cox’s Bazaar) and a terrestrial cable route via Kolkata.
  7. Overall network connectivity with India is decent since many large Bangladeshi networks buy transit from Tata Communications (AS6453) and Airtel (AS9498). So mostly there’s direct path to India and if not direct then via Singapore which added bit of latency but was not as bad as India-China routes.
  8. Bangladesh has a real & functional internet exchange :)


Overhead fiber in Dhaka

Speedtest in Dhaka Hotel  

Some thoughts around bdNOG event

  1. It was amazing to see how wonderful NOG community is in the Bangladesh. It was just like other regular NOGs from Western countries. We (Indians) have pretty much zero NOG involvement. SANOG does happens once every year but still hasn’t got as heavy as response as it would have been in large country like India. I still very much like it but was amazed to see response and user participation at bdNOG.
  2. I found almost all Bangladeshi people very friendly, helpful and relatively open in sharing their knowledge.
  3. May be it’s case due to excessive outsourcing industry full of “consultants”, “dumb managers” and so many other people in chain of managing operations here in India that NOG culture just never picked up. Most of “engineers” are either working at outsourcing firms managing large ISPs network and have limited visibility of overall operations, plus under NDAs and contracts. Thus actual knowledge and knowhow sharing is very low.
  4. In presentations presentation by Md. Zobair Khan on flow was interesting (link here), PKI industry growth by Al Faruq Ibna Nazim (link here), RTT matters by Maz from IIJ (link here).
  5. Dr. Khondkar Siddique-e-Rabbani gave a long but very interesting presentation on his work in the end (link here). It was extremely interesting to see challenges he faced and how he worked around them in local way. It is what I rarely see around in India i.e “real engineering”. I blogged in past how badly our Indian education system has lost sense of engineering and it’s pretty much just about marks, competitive exams, and just blank “management”.
  6. Dr. Khondkar also gave a fair amount of idea on how patents are bad for society and why he still has/had to re-event wheel since old version of wheel is there but patented! His acknowledgement of what Computer industry has achieved in terms of Open Source softwares was remarkable and very enlightening. :)
  7. Event ended with pool side dinner and as soon as I came out, I heard songs of Jagjit Singh being played on the music system. Somehow I felt I was never away from home. We were culturally so similar! :)

Overall I loved the experience and it was great to see how close we are culturally to Bangladesh (and likely Pakistan too!). I never appreciated Bollywood as much I did after this trip. It’s success somehow keeps our culture and Hindi (movies & songs!) very popular in the region. Bangladesh also has licensing around in telecom market just like India but it was different in certain ways. In terms of retail broadband market, capping is less common and low rate speed plans (with unlimited data transfer / no caps) are more common. It’s hard to know how feasible is business of domestic startups is here in India but I greatly appreciate the online/app culture they are bringing along with domestic hosting (bringing up demand for domestic datacenters). Bangladesh is likely to see those kind of things picking up within next few years.