Bangladesh becomes part of S Asian Satellite
Bangladesh has become a part of South Asian Satellite signing a deal yesterday with India, the launching country of the satellite.
The $400 million worth satellite is ready and it could be launched anytime, said Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Indian high commissioner in Bangladesh, after inking the deal in a ceremony at Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
The money is to be paid by India.
The South Asian Satellite will have 12 transponders and Bangladesh would be able to use one of them for free. But Bangladesh will have to set up an earth station in the country with its own funding for the use.
Participating countries could use it to host applications in the areas of education, health and emergency communication, said Shringla.
"The benefits associated with participation in the project include tele-education, tele-medicine and inter-government networks, emergency communication for disaster situation, television broadcast and direct-to-home (DTH) television services.”
"My sense is that the satellite itself is ready to launch any day. And, I think the launch will be undertaken as soon as the situation is conducive,” said Shringla. “It could be in next few days, week or months, but not a year.”
Shringla and Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the BTRC, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective countries.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam and Telecom Secretary Shyam Sunder Sikder, among others, spoke on the occasion. Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque and senior officials of the BTRC and the Indian High Commission in Dhaka were also present at that time.
The life of the satellite is expected to be 12 years.
Bangladesh is also taking preparation to launch its first communication satellite, Bangabandhu-1, which is likely to be launched on December 16 this year with a cost of around Tk 2,500 crore. The project cost was earlier estimated at Tk 2,900 crore.
Bangabandhu-1 will have 40 transponders and its cost will be much less than South Asian Satellite, said a BTRC official.
BTRC Chairman Shahjahan termed yesterday's moment as historic and rejected the question of conflict between these two satellites.
"Let me assure everyone that we were very careful when the technicalities were being evaluated and we are sure that there will be no interference between these two satellites,” he said.
He said Bangabandhu-1 Satellite's position would be over around Indonesia while South Asian Satellite's position would be over Afghanistan.
Bangladesh could use the transponder of South Asian Satellite for any purpose it wanted, Shahjahan added.
South Asian Satellite will be launched at 48 degree East and Bangabandhu-1 Satellite at 119.1 degree East.
The Indian high commissioner also offered Bangladesh support to help it launch the country's first ever satellite.
Shringla said except Pakistan, all the Saarc countries would be with the South Asian Satellite project.
"This is the part of the prime minister's 'neighbours first' foreign policy -- to add substance to ties with neighbours and further our common agenda of regional integration,” he added.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi first raised the idea of the South Asian Satellite in the Saarc summit of Kathmandu in 2014.
At that time, India proposed it as Saarc satellite, but after the refusal of Pakistan to be a part of it, they amended their proposal and renamed it South Asian Satellite. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is entrusted with launching the satellite.
Last month, India set a world record by launching 104 satellites, owned by six different countries, from a single rocket, said Shringla.
A highly-placed source in the BTRC said when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits India in the first week of April, there might be another deal on the use of satellite.
State Minister Shahriar said going beyond the conventional cooperation, Bangladesh and India have stepped into non-conventional areas, especially high-tech satellite to boost socioeconomic cooperation.