A massive push for Digital Bangladesh

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State-run telecom operator BTCL will develop a countrywide wireless network to provide low-cost internet broadband services in all the seven divisional cities including the rural areas.

The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday approved the Tk 956 crore project to be implemented by 2017.

The company has asked for spectrum from the telecom regulator to set up the network for long term evolution (LTE), which is known as fourth generation (4G) technology and very efficient for wireless data services compared to 3G or other wireless services.

Telecom Secretary Abubakar Siddique said the LTE network will be developed outside the capital where other operators do not want to offer services. Subscribers will enjoy the services thorough personal computers and laptops only.

Siddique, who is also the chairman of BTCL (Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd), said they have already sent the proposal for spectrum allocation to the regulator.

A major portion, Tk 612 crore, of the project fund will be provided by the Export-Import Bank of Korea and the rest Tk 344 crore by the government.

The secretary said the foreign loans at an interest rate of 0.01 percent are payable in 25 years.

The BTCL will have to provide Tk 315 crore from the government fund to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission for 35 MHz spectrum in the 2,500 MHz band.

A total of 670 base transceivers and 300 kilometres of optical fibre cable will have to be installed for the project.

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said it is important to set up a wireless broadband network to ensure access to low-cost internet for all and build a ‘digital Bangladesh’.

The project will help expand the ICT services by providing high-speed and quality broadband, the minister said in a statement.

The Ecnec yesterday approved four projects, including the one for wireless broadband network, involving Tk 6,386 crore.

Despite being the oldest telecom operator in the country, the BTCL provided only 14,000 broadband lines so far, against its capacity to offer around 50,000 lines, mainly due to poor maintenance.

The state-run operator has more than 50 years of experience in various services such as landline, internet, backhaul and international gateway or call handling.

But after the rise of private telecom operators for mobile, WiMax and international gateways or transmission services, customers were losing interest in BTCL.

BTCL will be the third LTE service provider in Bangladesh, while the other licensees are Banglalion, Qubee and Bangladesh Internet Exchange Ltd. Another company, Mango Teleservices, is also in the process to get LTE spectrum.

News Source: The Daily Star

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