The telecom regulator yesterday said it plans to roll out the fifth-generation cellular network technology (5G) in Bangladesh by 2021.
Within the next two years, the latest and fastest wireless standard will be available in all district headquarters, said Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
“The service will be available by the last quarter of next year or the first quarter of 2021,” said Md Shahidul Alam, director general for spectrum management of the commission.
He made the comments while speaking at a seminar on “5G in Bangladesh” at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh.
The BTRC plans to cover the entire country (up to upazila level, growth centres and railway stations) with 5G by 2026. It will prepare a guideline by the first quarter of 2020 and allocate licences to mobile operators by the fourth quarter.
A committee formed by the commission is working to formulate the guideline and fix the spectrum price in consultation with the government, Alam said.
Before the launch of 5G, the BTRC would also need to address a lot of related issues and it will try to solve them while drafting the guideline.
The BTRC team is considering to introduce 5G in 2.6 and 3.5 Gigahertz band spectrum.
Speaking at the event, Posts and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar said 5G and the fourth industrial revolution were interrelated and without 5G, Bangladesh would not be part of the upcoming industrialisation.
“5G is not only related to telecom services; it will help boost digitalisation and automation in every sector.”
The government introduced 4G in 2018 and 3G in 2013. Currently, there are about six crore 3G users and about two crore 4G users in Bangladesh.
A lot of people also think that the service quality of 2G, 3G and even 4G is not satisfactory and wondered why 5G is necessary, the minister said.
“Here my answer is: there is no relation between 2G, 3G and 4G and 5G. 5G is a highway for industrialisation and if we are to take the lead in the fourth industrial revolution, we need to launch it,” Jabbar said.
He said 5G is not all about mobile technology; rather, all the upcoming services on education, health, agriculture, and other sectors will be related with it.
“5G is not related with previous services. It is an ecosystem and we are one of the first countries which decided to accept it.”
BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque said in the 5G era, machines would communicate with machines and people would be behind them.
“The use of artificial intelligence has already started in Bangladesh and 5G will help run AI, Internet of Things and robotics easily to boost productivity,” he said.
Abdus Salam, country manager of Ericsson Bangladesh, Jerry Wang Shiwu, chief technology officer of Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Limited, and Reduan Hasan Khan, a general manager of Grameenphone, gave presentations at the seminar.
In his presentation, Salam said the garment industry could be automated on the back of 5G and it would enhance productivity.
Shiwu said doctors were performing surgeries using 5G despite being 2,000 kilometres away from patients.
Telecom Secretary Ashoke Kumar Biswas and BTRC Commissioner Md Aminul Hassan also spoke.
There were 31 commercial 5G service launches in 17 countries by the end of the second quarter of 2019, less than a year since the first offering, according to research firm IHS Markit, reported Bloomberg on Tuesday.