French company Thales Alenia Space has started work on the design of Bangabandhu satellite, aiming to finish the primary job in three months, a top official said.
The design for the country's first satellite will be reviewed by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission before being finalised, said Shahjahan Mahmood, the regulator's chairman.
BTRC officials have attended a meeting in France this month to discuss various issues with Thales, a key European player in space telecommunications.
BTRC signed a $248-million (about Tk 1,959 crore) deal with Thales on November 11 to design, build and launch the commercial and broadcast satellite.
The regulator has already paid an advance of Tk 280.82 crore this week, senior officials said.
The payment is bank-guaranteed, which the BTRC can redeem in case Thales Alenia fails to meet the deadline.
The total project cost will run into Tk 2,967.95 crore, with the government paying Tk 1,315.51 crore from its own fund and the rest coming in foreign loans.
“We are considering forming a new company and training its personnel to run the satellite and its related activities after its launch in December 2017,” Mahmood said.
Spectra Engineers Ltd, Thales' partner in Bangladesh, has already started work on ground handling stations in Gazipur and Rangamati since the signing of the deal, a project official said.
The government will also run a publicity campaign across the country to make people aware of the mega project, Mahmood added.
The BTRC's feasibility study on the satellite indicated that it -- once launched -- will narrow the digital divide by taking broadcasting and telecom services to rural areas and introducing profitable services, including direct-to-home services.
The satellite will be able serve all South Asian countries including Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, as well as Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.