Bangladesh has finally linked up with India’s South Asia Satellite (SAARC 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.
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.