The launch of satellite Bangabandhu-1 by Bangladesh brings both prospects and challenges as it is expected to help the country save foreign currency, while the challenges remain in effectively running the venture, experts.
BTRC officials said that the expenses of the satellite would return within seven years of its service as it would provide service for television channels, mobile phone companies, direct-to-home TV service providers, internet connectivity in remote areas and for wither forecast.
Satellite network would play an important role in ensuring uninterrupted telecommunication services throughout the country if Bangladesh’s existing telecommunication systems collapse in unexpected disasters, they said.
Besides, foreign currencies could be earned by selling capacity of the satellite’s transponder to other countries along with saving foreign currencies spent by the country’s TV channels for hiring satellite transponders from others, the officials said.
As per the government estimation disclosed so far, the country would be able to earn $1 billion in 15 years by leasing out transponders and another $1.5 billion by selling other services to different countries.
Experts, however, said that making the project profitable would not be that much easy considering the existing structure of the company, Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited, formed to operate the satellite.
LIRNEasia senior policy fellow Abu Saeed Khan
told New Age on Thursday, ‘Worldwide capacity of satellite is usually sold before the launch but we are yet to take any such move.’
‘The entire venture has to be managed and operated commercially unlike other state-owned enterprises. If it runs like other state-owned enterprises, it will turn into a losing concern as well,’ Saeed, also a former secretary-general of the Association of Mobile Telephone Operators of Bangladesh, said.
Whether the Bangabandhu satellite would get any benefit in the context of the satellites run by other counties, he said, ‘Technologically, there is a standard procedure of making communication satellite and the one of Bangladesh followed the same procedure. The matter of its success depends on the policies and people working behind.’
Earlier, posts, telecommunications and information technologies minister Mostafa Jabbar stated that satellite was not just for technical or commercial purpose, it’s more about pride for the country.
Under the government plant, 20 out of the 40 transponders of the satellite would be leased out, while the rest 20 would be kept to meet the country’s own demand.
The government has already urged all the TV channels to subscribe services of the satellite immediately after it becomes functional in space.
Earlier in April this year, Shahjahan Mahmood at a discussion said that all the investments of the satellite would return within seven years, while the satellite company would make profit during the rest of its lifetime.
Representatives of television stations, who were spending $14 million a year to rent bandwidth from Indian, Chinese and Singaporean satellites, however, said it would be difficult for them to maintain connection with Bangabandhu Satellite-1 due to its position in the orbital slot.
At a discussion in April this year, Association of Television Channel Owners vice-president Mozammel Babu said TV channels would have to maintain 45 degree angle to connect to the satellite placed in 119.1 degree orbital slot for which a six-storey building could be problematic.
‘We have already tested with a satellite placed in 121 degree orbital slot to understand how effectively we could be connected to a satellite at such an angle,’ he said.
Speaking about the performance of 26 Ku-band transponders of 40 transponders, the ATCO vice-president, also managing director of Ekattor TV, said that the Transmission under the Ku band was interrupted even by a single drop of rain.
So, how much it would be possible to run even after making every effort from the TV channels to make it happen remained a matter of doubt, he said.
Although work of the ground stations in Gazipur and Rangamati, which would control the satellite from the earth after the launch, has already been completed, connectivity between the two stations are yet to be established, officials have said.
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