Bangladesh has finally linked up with India's South Asia Satellite and the telecom regulator will soon send a proposal to the prime minister seeking a nod to use the satellite for research purposes.
India has already shared a terminal of the satellite with Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the commission.
“We want to use the capacity of the satellite skilfully,” he told The Daily Star. Bangladesh can also hand over the satellite's capacity to any research organisation, said Mahmood.
To reap the maximum benefit, BTRC also wants to use some money for the satellite from the social obligation fund, where the mobile operators have so far deposited Tk 1,500 crore since 2011, he said.
To boost regional telecom and broadcasting services, India spent Rs 235 crore to design, build and launch the satellite in May last year—which will have 12 years of mission life—and offered one of its 12 transponders for free to Bangladesh.
The telecom watchdog has also signed a deal with India in this regard in April last year. Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are also availing the connectivity while Pakistan opted out, saying it has its own space programme.
While Bangladesh's first commercial satellite Bangabandhu-1 was being built, the government formed Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Ltd to run business concerning satellites.
Bangabandhu-1 has already been constructed by a French manufacturer and was supposed to be launched in December 2017; but its launch has been deferred to early April, owing to a packed schedule of the US launching station concerned.
Project documents say Bangabandhu-1's capacity is much higher when compared with South Asia Satellite, with services expected to be provided to all South Asian nations, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, if everything goes according to plan.
“Our own satellite can be used for commercial purposes and we can also sell its capacity to other countries while South Asia Satellite will be used only for limited purposes and its capacity will never be sold,” Mahmood said.