Maiden satellite project okayed

Bangabandhu Satellite to take off by 2017; estimated cost Tk 2,968cr

The government has approved a satellite project, first of its kind, to improve information technology related services, including mobile phone service and television broadcast, at a cheaper rate.
A satellite will be built and a ground station set up for launching it under the Tk 2,968-crore project. An authority will also be formed for the maintenance of the satellite. At present, telecommunications and broadcast services are provided through hiring bandwidths from overseas satellite operators.
The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday gave the go-ahead to the “Bangabandhu Satellite Launching Project”, under which a satellite is expected to take off from here by 2017.
The winning bidder will raise Tk 1,652-crore fund for the project, which means the government will have to pay it back at a higher interest rate than the cost of soft loans from development partners.
The Ecnec meeting was told that the USA, China, France, Russia and Japan had expressed interest in building and launching the satellite, but the committee decided to award the job through open bidding.
The cabinet committee on purchase will finally make the decision as to which firm will get the job, said Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal after the meeting.
The servicing cost will be negotiated with the winning bidder, he said.
Officials of the planning ministry at the meeting said most of the developed and developing countries had brought massive changes in telecommunication, broadcasting, meteorology, defence, telemedicine and research through launching their own satellites.
Bangladesh is a densely populated country and so it needs a satellite of its own for improving the IT services.
About $14 million is paid every year to foreign operators only for broadcasting facilities, as per the planning ministry. The cost will be much less if Bangladesh procures a satellite.
The project will generate jobs in rural areas, said an official of the Information and Communication Technology Division, adding that mobile services would be improved there.
Two projects titled “Development of NGO-based telecommunication network” and “Setting up wireless broadband network” have been undertaken. The Sheikh Hasina-led government has also moved to set up a second submarine cable.
“When the proposed Bangabandhu Satellite Launching Project will be implemented, people all over the country will get information technology services at low cost and easily,” an official of the planning ministry said.
According to the proposal, the satellite will have 40 transponder capacity, 30 percent of which will be used up to meet the country’s demand.
And the remaining 70 percent of the capacity would be available to sell services to other countries, officials of the planning ministry told the meeting.
There are demands in Malaysia and Indonesia. However, Malaysia launched three satellites and Indonesia placed nine satellites on the orbit, according to the planning ministry statistics.