‘Russian orbital slot to be hired’ for Bangabandhu Satellite

Satellite-640The government has decided to procure 119.2 east longitude orbital slot from Russian company Intersputnik to launch the country’s first ever satellite, Bangabandhu Satellite-1.

The cabinet committee on economic affairs yesterday approved a proposal of Post and Telecommunication Division to acquire the slot at $28m under procure from single source method.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith presided over the cabinet committee meeting.

Bangladesh has no other choices other than procuring the slot from the Russian company,” said cabinet division joint secretary Mustafizur Rahman.

BTRC commissioner ATM Monirul Alam thinks if the country wants to launch its inaugural satellite by 2017, there is only option which is taking slot from Intersputnik.

“Time is very limited and options are also limited. If we want to launch the satellite on time, the only option is Intersputnik,” he said.

Finance ministry sources said if the deal was not signed with Intersputnik by December 31, the company would sell the slot to another interested party.

The project’s consultant Space Partnership International, a US company, has rated the slot as the best among remaining options for the satellite.

Monirul Alam said though a cost of $45m was sought, it has now been proposed at $28m.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is the implementing agency of the project.

BTRC commissioner said the slot will be bought for a 15-year period which can be extended twice for same years each time with no additional payment.

The Russian company Intersputnik is willing to give full control of the satellite to Bangladesh, a feature not provided in other available orbital slots, according to the Telecom Division’s proposal.

There is a scope to launch three satellites in a line from the slot and it will be possible to provide many planned quality services to Bangladesh and other countries in the region through it.

If the second and the third satellites are not launched in near future, the country can earn revenue by leasing out or selling the remaining frequency to other countries across the world.

Currently, the country’s demand for a satellite is met by renting bandwidth from different satellite operator, which cost almost $14m each year, with the amount increasing progressively.

On November 25, Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved Tk2,967 crore for the Bangabandhu project, of which, Tk1,652 crore come from foreign aid. The remaining amount will be raised through bidder fund.

The proposal said the satellite would minimise the digital divide as it would take broadcasting and telecommunication services to the most rural areas and introduce profitable and promising services such as direct service to homes throughout the country.

The government has planned to launch the satellite in the middle of 2017 although the launching was supposed to take place at the end of 2014.

Source: Daily Star

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