Country’s maiden satellite Bangabandhu-1 will start commercial operations from August this year subject to its launch into the orbital slot at 119.1 Degrees East tentatively on April 24, a top official said.
“We are expecting to begin the commercial operations from August and hopeful of launching the satellite at the end of this month after a series of tests,” Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood told the daily sun on Wednesday.
He said the American firm SpaceX has already started its pre-launch preparations to launch the satellite.
Bangladesh’s first communication satellite Bangabandhu-1 has already been shipped from France to Florida of the US for launching into the orbit.
“SpaceX has not confirmed the launching date yet, but we are hopeful of launching it on April 24 subject to successful pre-launching tests,” the BTRC boss said.
Falcon 9, one of the SpaceX’s finest launch vehicles will be used for Bangabandhu-1.
The satellite will have 40 transponders, of which 14 in C-band and 26 in Ku-band. One transponder is equivalent to 36 MHz.
The BTRC Chairman said 20 transponders of the satellite will be deployed for domestic users while the remaining 20 will be sold in the international market.
The satellite has 15 years of mission lifespan.
The Ku-band will cover Bangladesh and its territorial water bodies of the Bay of Bengal, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines, the BTRC officials said.
On the other hand, C-band will cover Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and portions of Kazakhstan.
Now, Bangladesh meets its demand for satellite connectivity by renting bandwidth from foreign operators at a cost of about $14 million annually. Once launched, Bangabandhu-1 will save the foreign currency on satellite connectivity.
Bangabandhu-1 satellite will offer video services for Direct-to-Home (DTH), e-learning, Tele-medicine, Family Planning, Farming etc while voice service to cellular backhaul, disaster recovery etc and data service for internet, SCADA, SOHO as well as business-to-business (VSAT) etc.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will watch the launch live from Dhaka through video conference while her ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy will be present at the launching station for monitoring.
A 30-member team, led by Tarana Halim, state minister for information, will also be in Florida during the launching.
The BTRC signed a $248-million deal with Thales Alenia Space to manufacture and launch the satellite in November 2015.
Asked about the decision making on the allocation of transponders and tariff for bandwidth, the BTRC chairman said the Bangabandhu satellite company Ltd has the authority to make those decisions.
The state-owned company will invite expression of interest to sell transponder bandwidth.
Dr Shahjahan Mahmood informed that the ministry of information awarded the licences to two companies years ago and that the telecom regulator has nothing to do with this matter.
Currently, all private TV channels in Bangladesh use Apstar-7 satellite, which is at 76.5 degrees east. Only the state-run BTV uses Asiasat-7, another satellite, which is at 105.5 degrees east in the orbit.
The BTRC chairman also said they are expecting to start the commercial operations of the transponder from the South Asian satellite next month. The transponder comes as a gift from India.
“The South Asian satellite will help telecommunications, disaster management and weather forecasting services concerning remote Island Sandwip and haors and coastal areas.
The South Asian satellite will also facilitate internet connectivity in a total of 772 remote unions. A BTRC team will visit Swandip for commercial testing of the services in Sandwip today (Thursday),” the BTRC chief said.