Bangladesh has made a giant step forward in its digital advancements by launching its maiden communications satellite Bangabandhu-1, which will open up endless opportunities for seamless digital connectivity and commercial interests.
The country became a member of the elite club of satellite-owning nations with the successful launch of Bangabandhu-1 in the early hours of Saturday.
Experts said Bangladesh will be able to earn big amount of foreign currency by selling the satellite’s transponders to other countries as well as saving the huge amount of money that local television channels now pay for using services from foreign satellites.
The Bangabandhu satellite will also facilitate improved weather forecasting services, they said.
The government also plans to expand internet connectivity to the country’s rural areas using the Bangabandhu satellite.
“We become a satellite-owning country. This is a new identity for Bangladesh. Besides, we will be able to save a huge amount of foreign currency that we have been paying to foreign firms for satellite connectivity for our television stations,” Telecommunication and ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar told the daily sun.
“Bangabandhu satellite will enable us to deploy high-speed internet connectivity in hard-to-reach areas,” the minister said.
The government is expecting to earn Tk 250-300 crore a year from commercial operations of the satellite, and start making profits from the space venture in six to seven years.
A total of 18 Bangladeshi engineers will handle the technical operations of Bangabandhu-1 satellite from the ground station in Gazipur, the minister informed.
Local television and radio stations will be immensely benefited from the Bangabandhu satellite.
“We (around 37 television stations) pay around Tk 17 crore to foreign firms for satellite connectivity,” GTV Editor-in-Chief Syed Ishtiaque Reza said.
He also said the viewers will be benefited from the satellite-bound wireless-enabled DTH or Direct to Home services once the Bangabandhu satellite launches its services.
DTH services provide faster access to worldwide television entertainment and they will have an easier and faster access to global TV entertainment through Bangabandhu-1, he said.
The satellite will make video distribution easier as well as enabling broadcasters to effortlessly distribute content to intermediaries like cable TV network operators or re-broadcasters like DTH operators.
Bangabandhu-1 will also support for expanding internet coverage through VSAT or very small aperture terminal.
Fahim Mashroor, former president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), said the government should concentrate on utilising the satellite to reach internet connectivity to the hard-to-reach people.
“The VSAT System can be used in the country’s internet backbone. This will enable people living in remote areas to access the internet at affordable prices,” he told the daily sun.
BRAC University Assistant Prof Khalilur Rahman said the satellite will add 1,440 megahertz to the country’s wireless communication systems.
Bangabandhu-1 satellite is expected to be located at the 119.1° East longitude geostationary slot above Indonesia. The slot was hired from the Russia-based Intersputnik.
“Bangladesh initially applied to International Telecommunication Union for the orbital slot at 90 ° East positioned above Bangladesh. But this notion received some objections from the international community. Then Bangladesh hired the 119.1° slot from Russia,” Rahman, also the principle instructor of BRAC Onnesha Satellite project told the daily sun.
Bangabandhu-1 will mostly cover South Asian countries and Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkestan and a part of Kazakhstan.
An independent authority, namely ‘Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited’ will ultimately take over the operations of the country’s maiden communications satellite.
Designed and manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, Bangabandhu satellite’s s mission is expected to last at least 15 years.