Bangladesh's broadcasting and communications services are to be given a boost with the 2015 launch of the South Asian country's first satellite, to be called Bangabandhu.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has signed a TK 82.5 crore deal with Space Partnership International (SPI) of the US to design the satellite. SPI will appoint a manufacturer to build and an operator to launch the satellite within three years.
Under the agreement, SPI will also create the business plan, coordinate frequency with international agencies and initiate training locally.
Bangladesh will be able to earn $3 billion in the next 15 years by offering various satellite services, Bruce D Kraselsky, the company's managing director, told the Daily Star.
Major General Zia Ahmed, chairman of the BTRC, said: "The Bangabandhu satellite system represents an opportunity to provide advanced communications and broadcasting access, including high speed Internet, direct-to-home broadcast satellite services and corporate communications for the citizens of Bangladesh, and the region in a cost-effective manner. The satellite will be a revenue source for Bangladesh, from use by other nations in the region.
"This partnership demonstrates a key step in Bangladesh's commitment to increasing economic growth, and enhancing the quality of life for all Bangladeshi citizens through communications, that can reach any part of the country to deliver e-learning, telemedicine, banking, border security and more," he added.
Bangladesh relies on foreign satellite to distribute television channels and telecommunications services to remote areas of the country, currently paying $11 million in satellite bandwidth rent a year, Kraselsky said. "This amount will no longer be spent," he added.
At the moment communications service providers in Bangladesh rely on the SEA-ME-WE 4 submarine cable. By 2014, a further undersea connection will be made with SEA-ME-WE 5.
"We are honored to have been selected from an impressive international field of qualified organizations to assist Bangladesh in the development of the Bangahandu satellite system which will complement its terrestrial telecommunications infrastructure as well as expand its telecommunications capabilities throughout the region and fill the gap in the digital divide," Kraselsky added in a statement.
The Bangabandhu satellite project, expected to cost in the region of $150 million, is part of the Bangladesh Government's ICT policy of 2009.