Bangabandhu-1: Ground still not ready to serve clients
Although the Bangabandhu-1 is technically well positioned in Florida's Cape Canaveral for its launch into orbit, the two ground stations in Gazipur and Rangamati are not yet ready to offer services.
The two ground stations must have seamless fibre optic connectivity between them to enable the country's first geostationary communications satellite to offer services to its probable clients.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the project's implementing body, had tasked the state-run BTCL with the job in December last year, but the latter was yet to make any move in this regard, said a senior project official.
A “test fire” of Falcon 9, the rocket that would carry the Bangabandhu-1 to orbit, was done on Friday evening.
Yesterday, Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to discuss the issue.
“We have apprised the prime minister on the project. She said there was nothing to be worried about,” the minister told The Daily Star.
As the government had no update on the probable launching date of the satellite, a big part of the 42-member government delegation once again postponed their flying schedule to the USA yesterday, said project officials.
A few days ago, Project Director Md Mesbauzzaman first raised the lack of connectivity issue in a roundtable in presence of the telecom minister and BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood.
Project officials said they picked Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL) for the job as it is a government organisation. The officials have now decided that they will enter an agreement with Summit Communication Limited to have the two ground stations linked. The deal is likely to be signed soon.
The officials are also holding talks with some other private firms to set up fibre optic connectivity between the two ground stations.
Sources at Summit Communications said if given the job, the company would be able to connect the ground stations within a couple of weeks.
Mustafa Jabbar said they were aware of the situation. “If the BTCL fails, we have alternative options for fibre optic connectivity…. Everything is in our control so far.”
He said they were in a situation of enjoying the historic launch of the satellite and the ground station issue was a very minor one. “We will have time to resolve the issue after the launch of the satellite.”
According to project officials, the satellite will take seven days to reach orbit on 119.1 east. After going through testing for few more days, the satellite will be linked to its two ground stations.
Mesbauzzaman said connectivity of the ground stations needs to be ensured even during the testing period for different purposes.
Another project official said Thales Alenia Space, the French manufacturer of the satellite, now working at the ground stations, was also frustrated with the connectivity issue.
If the BTRC fails to provide proper assistance to Thales, the latter can penalise the project's implementing body. The Thales has already informed the project office about it.