Afghanistan has issued a tender for its first communications satellite in an effort to improve rural broadcast coverage and boost internet access across the war-torn country.
The Afghanistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) intends to make its ITU-allocated orbital slot at 50 degrees East available via a license agreement with an international partner to support both private and public communications services.
Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Amir Zai Sangin, told Afghanistan's Tolo Television the installation process of the satellite would begin "very soon". He added: "It's our priority to solve broadcasting issues and bring all our districts under coverage."
The country faces a shortage of frequencies due to the myriad number of TV channels now operating, with Turkish and Indian dramas being among the most popular shows.
Satellite transponder space would both help support more channels and a shift from analogue to digital television transmission (DTT) - required worldwide by the ITU in 2015.
Afghanistan's poor internet connectivity would also be much improved with a national satellite, Sangin said.
"We would like to make a partnership with an international satellite company to launch an Afghan satellite," Abdul Malak Nazari, an ATRA board member, told UK daily The Guardian.
"The company will be selected through a process of procurement ... they will surely pay for the satellite," he added.
The tender does not include the provision of earth terminals and associated terrestrial infrastructure; purely the space segment, according to ATRA.