Bangladesh should harness opportunities in knowledge economy

BanglaPress Desk
May 30, 2018

Analysts say that the satellite will help modern telecommunications and also national security by way of gleaning useful data
Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled

Bangladesh should harness opportunities in knowledge economy
Bangladesh’s maiden satellite finally shot into its orbit from the United States (US) city of Florida on 11 May 2018 night, overcoming some initial takeoff troubles, amid high hopes, that it would help the country harness opportunities in knowledge economy. Bangladesh, above all else, booked a space in the elite space club of 58 nations now. This the country has done in the small hours of 12 May 2018 (Bangladesh time) with the launch of its first geostationary communications satellite, styled Bangabandhu-1, into orbit by US space-transport-company Space X. The satellite was launched at 4.14 pm (local time) on 11 May 2018 (2:14 am, 12 May 2018 in Bangladesh) using the latest version of Space X’s upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, the Block 5, from the historic Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Bangabandhu-1 got separated, around 36 minutes into the flight, from its carrier and got into geostationary orbit. The moment was euphoric around the launching site at Kennedy Space Centre. Some were caught off guard by the almost immediate launch as the window for the day opened at 4:14 pm. The state-owned Bangladesh Television broadcast the launch of Bangabandhu-1 live, as did other local channels. After its launching schedule had been deferred nine times previously the satellite finally made it at the last minute on 12 May 2018 (Bangladesh time). The run-up to the launch was full of discussions about the merit and the gains for the nation from the space venture. All hailed, although political opposition aired some guarded reservations.
About the cost, an amount of over Tk 20 billion is no money in proportion to Bangladesh’s budget size these days. The satellite carrying the Bangladesh flag into the space is a matter of pride. The project cost is Tk 30 billion. But sources involved with the venture said the cost would come down to Tk 27 billion. Life of the satellite is 15 years and thereafter it will be disposed of debris. One engineer concerned upbeat the aftermath. He said that, by then, Bangabandhu-2, Bangabandhu-3 might be ready. As expected, the satellite will save the foreign currency now spent for renting foreign satellites for data collection and communications on the information superhighway. Moreover it, as well as, will help earn foreign exchange from rentals after meeting national demand.
Analysts say that the satellite will help modern telecommunications and also national security by way of gleaning useful data. Bandwidth speed will be faster. Meanwhile, the satellite is already sending test signals to ground stations in Bangladesh. And that means a success in space venture – after all else. Bangabandhu-1 satellite opens new era in the history of Bangladesh. After the launch, the 3.7-tonne satellite travelled up to 36,000 km upwards and then makes adjustments for its orbit in about ten days. The launch process had two phases: the first is the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) and the second one is satellite in Orbit. The LEOP phase will take ten days while the second one will take another twenty days. Once the satellite becomes active, it will be controlled from three stations in the US, Italy and South Korea. The launch of the satellite will open doors for massive opportunities. This is a huge stride towards digitisation of Bangladesh. The satellite will offer Direct-to-Home (D2H) services making people’s access to worldwide TV faster and easier.
Bangladesh’s annual expenditure for satellite connectivity is US $14 million. The cost is due to renting bandwidth from foreign operators. After the Bangabandhu-1 launch, this will be unnecessary. Private TV channel operators and Direct-to-Home (D2H) as alternative of cable television service providers will be the main consumers of the satellite’s services. The defence sector will benefit from the satellite as well as also the weather department. Remote haor, hill tracts and coastal areas will also have now internet connection .It will also be useful for e-treatment and disaster management facilities. Experts, policymakers and people related with the country’s most sophisticated project said that this satellite will help the country earn high respect from foreign nations and at the same time will give extra pace to the digitisation process.
The Bangabandhu-1 will help bring uninterrupted telecommunications even during disasters like cyclones and tornados. It will also play a major role in telemedicine, e-learning, research and FTH services. It will be able to count holdings as well as measure population density. The Bangabandhu -1 satellite is going to be located at the 119.1 east geostationary slot which will cover all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries as well as Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkistan and a part of Kazakhstan. Bangladeshi satellite television channels that have a large number of viewers in the Middle Eastern countries are expected to become the main commercial user of the first Bangladeshi satellite.
The Bangabandhu-1 satellite will make video distribution easier. The broadcasters may effortlessly distribute their content to intermediaries like Cable TV network operators or re-broadcasters like D2H operators. This satellite will help make Bangladesh an advanced country in the world. It will speed up many aspects of our day-to-day life. Bangladesh, in effect, will now be at par with the countries that sent men to the moon and we will now be able to share technological advances with other advanced countries, and be a leader amongst the SAARC nations some of which already have satellite in their possession.
The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General