Currently earns Tk 125 crore for the local bandwidth market annually thanks to the 36 local satellite TV channels availing its services
Bangladesh’s first-ever satellite Bangabandhu-1 has to rely on the local market to earn revenue after the price of satellite bandwidth fell due to supply greatly exceeding demand.
The Bangabandhu-1 currently earns Tk 125 crore for the local bandwidth market annually thanks to the 36 local satellite TV channels availing its services, according to the Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company (BCSCL).
This was far below the expected return on its investment, which cost Tk 3,000 crore to go live, according to BCSCL officials.
It was initially anticipated that the cost would be recovered in 5-7 years if the transponder could be rented out of the country.
But the reality seems different.
The supply of satellite bandwidth is abundant as nearly 6,000 satellites circle around the planet, far more than the 2,666 operational satellites.
Although the Philippines and Nepal expressed interest in taking bandwidth from Bangabandhu-1, their asking prices were very low.
Now, the domestic market is the only option left, said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of BCSCL.
“We have a lot of unsold satellite transponders and bandwidth. There is a possibility to increase the market inside the country. But it will take time.”
More banks will be brought under the satellite's purview, as four ATM booths of Dutch-Bangla Bank, five of Eastern Bank are already connected through the satellite's Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT).
More banks such as Sonali are set to avail the satellite's VSAT as there was no risk of cybercrime or cables getting cut, according to Mahmood.
Other services such as telemedicine, education, internet, data connectivity, video conferencing, especially in inaccessible areas, will also be integrated into the satellite's services, including some areas in Chandpur, Bhola, Potuakhali, Barisal and Rangamati.
“If we want to rent our bandwidth in the global market we have to reduce the price. The prices offered in the local market are higher than the global ones,” said Mustafa Jabbar, posts and telecommunications minister.
Bangabandhu-1 was launched on May 11, 2018 from the Cape Kennedy Space Centre in Orlando, US.
It then travelled 36,000 kilometres and settled at 119.9 degrees of the equator.
After various technical tests, Thales Alenia in France, the manufacturer and controller of the satellite, handed over its control to Bangladesh in Dhaka on November 9 the same year.