POST TIME: 12 May, 2019 12:21:55 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 May, 2019 09:10:15 AM
Bangabandhu-1 satellite completes 1year in space

Bangabandhu-1 satellite 
completes 1year in space

On this day (May 12) a year ago, Bangladesh entered its “space era” with the launching of the first satellite Bangabandhu-1 (BS-1) into orbit. One year has passed since the launching of the satellite, opening up a number of possibilities and business opportunities.

Talking with The Independent, Dr Shahjahan Mahmud, Chairman of the Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited, said, even though the satellite was launched last May, BCSCL became its custodian last November. “Earlier, it was under the control of its manufacturer Thales Alenia Space. On November 9, the BCSCL took over control of the satellite from them,” said Dr Shahjahan.

He said, to help the company run smoothly and take decisions faster, the government has formed a high-powered committee headed by the principal secretary to the Prime Minister's Office.

The committee includes five senior secretaries, the chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and the BCSCL chairman.

The telecom regulator has already made it mandatory for new television channels to take bandwidth from the state-owned satellite to ensure optimum use of Bangabandhu-1's capacity.

“If the BCSCL fails to provide the bandwidth they need, only then can they avail the services of other satellites,” he said.

The BCSCL has already penned preliminary agreements with some government offices and will ink deals with two VSAT companies soon to provide uninterrupted connectivity to banks.

Dr Shahjahan said each of the commercial TV channels had made agreements with the BCSCL and, on the occasion of the first anniversary, they would take the agreement papers from the hand of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Each television station in Bangladesh uses four to six megahertz of bandwidth and spends $20,000 a month on an average for satellite connectivity. If all of them take the service from Bangabandhu-1, the BCSCL will be able to earn $10 million annually, enough to make its business viable.

Currently, there are 34 television channels in Bangladesh that are shelling out $14 million per year to use

satellites of other countries. “Television channels take per MHz bandwidth at $4,000 and we will offer them a better price with attractive discounts for additional bandwidth consumption,” said Dr Shahjahan. According to the initial plan, Bangabandhu-1 could reach break-even within seven years. But Mahmood said it could be done even earlier.

The BCSCL Chairman said TV channels incurred some costs to run their uplink and downlink stations. The BCSCL will allow new television stations to run the service from a single point, helping to save Tk 5 crore.

The BCSCL has also signed a deal with the country’s first direct-to-home company RealVU, which is testing programmes aired by 48 local and international channels through BS-1.

“We are very close to finalizing the deals with a few companies from the Philippines as well as places where our satellite has a strong footprint,” said Shahjahan.

He said the BCSCL’s international consultant, Thaicom, a renowned satellite company of Thailand currently active in about 20 countries, was working intensively and some new business deals would be on the table within a short time.

“We have lots of challenges in formulating the process of running the satellite company as it is a very new kind of technology and business for us. It also took time to get the key of the satellite,” he said.