‘Bangabandhu Satellite’ to be launched by 2017, hopes PM

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday expressed her firm optimism to launch Bangladesh’s first-ever satellite into space by 2017 to bring a revolutionary change in the telecom and information technology sector.
“We have taken necessary measures to launch the country’s first satellite ‘Bangabandhu Satellite’ into orbit. The orbital slot to this end has already been purchased. I hope that this satellite would be launched by 2017,” she said, adding it would bring an epoch-making change in the telecom and ICT sector.
The prime minister said this while addressing the inaugural function of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day and completion of 150 years of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka Monday.
State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Post and Telecommunication and ICT Ministry Imran Ahmed spoke at the function as the special guests.
Secretary of the Post and Telecommunication Division Md Faizur Rahman Chowdhury presided over the function, while a video message of ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao was broadcast.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Sunil Kanti Bose delivered the welcome address and presented the keynote on the theme of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day—‘The Telecommunications and ICTs: Drivers of Innovation’.
Earlier, the Prime Minister distributed awards among the winners of the online essay competition, which was arranged on the occasion of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day and completion of 150 years of the ITU.
Sheikh Hasina also released a commemorative postage stamp on the occasion. Spelling out her government steps for the development of the telecom and ICT sectors, the Prime Minister also hoped that Bangladesh would be connected with the second submarine cable by 2016.
She said her government has increased the submarine cable capacity up to 200 gbps to meet the growing demand of internet. “We have taken initiatives to link the country with the second submarine cable and the work is underway,” she said.
“We hope that Bangladesh would be connected with the second submarine cable by December 2016 and through which the country would get about 1300 gbps bandwidth,” she said.
The prime minister said international communication is being developed through terrestrial cable side by side with the submarine cable.
“We are going to export the additional bandwidth to neighboring country after meeting the country’s demand, and a potentiality has been created to fetch foreign currencies,” she said.
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina criticized the 1991-1996 BNP government for its refusal to take submarine cable without any cost.
“We had to take the submarine cable later in exchange of huge amount of money. We could have set up the second submarine cable much earlier, had the BNP taken the submarine cable at that time,” she said.
The PM said her previous government after assuming office in 2009 embarked on building “Digital Bangladesh” by overcoming the stalemate left in the sector by the BNP-Jamaat alliance and the caretaker government.
She said her government established the Information and Communication Technology Ministry separately. “Later we formed a single ministry by merging the ICT Ministry and the Post and Telecommunication Ministry,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government made massive infrastructural development to reach the fruits of the telecommunication and the ICT.
She said the number of mobile and land phone subscribers in 2009 was five crore which now increased to 12.5 crore, while the number of internet subscribers in 2009 was only 40 lakh which now rose to 4,56,76,609.
The prime minister said the tele-density now stood at 80 percent and 99 percent area of the country has been brought under mobile phone network, while internet density reached to 27.42 per cent from 2.5 per cent.
Terming ICT sector as the main weapon of women empowerment and poverty alleviation in Bangladesh, the Prime Minister said the country has already been a front-ranking one in South Asia in terms of the use of ICTs while its position in the world in outsourcing sector is the third.
She said her government that started its journey in 2009 with the dream of establishing Digital Bangladesh has transformed it into a reality as the people could now receive various public services digitally at their doorsteps.
She said her government has been developing the infrastructure of the ICT sector in the country to reach its fruits to the common people.
In this connection, she said, her government reduced internet cost to lowest Taka 612 from Taka 27,000 per MBPS while it made internet cost cheaper as there is no alternative to making it available to ensure free flow of information.
Sheikh Hasina said due to rapid development in telecom and ICT sector, the people have now been able to pay utility bills, get results of various public examinations and compete process of admission in educational institutions through internet and mobile phones, she added.
She narrated that e-commerce, e-transaction, e-banking and other activities on trade and commerce as well as e-signature and communication through videoconferencing have been started in various organizations enabling the process faster and more effective.
Sheikh Hasina said 3G network has already been introduced in the country to increase internet speed while the government is working to launch 4G network to bring more speed in the Internet.
About the digital centres set up in union level, the Prime Minister said 5,275 such centres have been established from where people are now getting nearly 200 types of service.
She said the government has launched the national web portal, the largest in the world, with 25 thousand websites of various public organizations.
Besides, she said, the national data centre has been set up in the country, while every upazila has been linked with optical fiber connection and district web portal has been established in every district to make information available to the citizens.
Talking about country’s own sattelite, the prime minister said the government is going to launch ‘Bangabandhu Sattelite’ into the orbit in 2017 and moving ahead to this end to make the initiative a success.
About her government’s steps to reduce dependency on imports of ICT-related products, she said the Telephone Shilpa Sangstha is marketing pre-paid electric meters, laptop, mobile, mobile battery alongside producing various digital telephone sets.
At the same time, Bangladesh Cable Shilpa Limited began production of optical fibre commercially from 2011, she said.
Citing Bangladesh’s role in telecommunication and ICT in the international arena, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh was elected council member of the International Telecommunication Union-ITU for 2010-2014 term.
Mentioning various international recognitions of successful use of ICT in the country, the Prime Minister said Bangladesh received “South-South Award” in 2011 and “South-South Cooperation Visionary Award” in 2014.
Besides, Bangladesh was also honored with the World Summit on Information Society Award in 2014 in recognition to successfully reaching government services to the doorsteps of the people, she said.
The PM also elaborated various steps undertaken by her government in the last six and a half years for the development and welfare of the country and its people.
She said, Bangladesh has achieved envious success in every sectors including agriculture, education, health, communication and infrastructure development, trade and commerce and foreign relations.
In this regard, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh already fulfilled all conditions to become a middle income country as its per capita income rose to US Dollar 1314. –Our Monitor

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