Potentials and challenges of Bangabandhu-1
Ten television stations, including three state-run televisions, have started telecasting programmes through Bangabandhu-1 satellite network, the only satellite of the country, which is a communication satellite used for multiple purposes. According to media reports, the local ten TV channels are receiving bandwidth from the satellite for free on a tentative basis, which is experimental telecast, and will pay the service fees from March, 2019. In November this year Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited (BCSCL) took control of the satellite from Thales Alenia Space, the manufacturer of the satellite. In September this year Bangladesh Television (BTV) telecasted live South Asian Football Federation Championship using the satellite, which was the first live telecast of Bangabandhu-1.
Each of the television channels in the country spends around USD 20,000 per month as satellite service fee. If all the 34 TV channels of the country receive the service from the Bangabandhu-1, it will amount to $ 10 million a year, while these TV channels spend $ 14 million as satellite fee to other countries. So the state-owned satellite offers a comparatively better price to the TV channels.
Reportedly, 15 new private TV channels will be telecasting programmes soon and they all will use the state-owned satellite since the telecom regulator has made taking bandwidth from the satellite mandatory. The aim of this obligation is to ensure the maximum utilisation of Bangabandhu-1. The satellite with a capacity of 1,600 megahertz is a powerful one considering TV airing since each of the channels in Bangladesh uses four to six megahertz bandwidth. So the satellite is more than enough to meet the domestic bandwidth needed and extra bandwidth can be offered to other countries.
The state owned satellite network is able to play an important role in ensuring uninterrupted telecommunication service throughout the country, in case, if the existing communication system collapses. The satellite will offer a faster broadcasting system since it offers Direct-to-Home service.
According to the government estimation, BCSCL will be able to earn $1 billion in its 15 year lifespan if it leases the transponders.
Besides, an additional $ 1.5 billion is possible to earn by selling other services to different countries.
However, one of the setbacks to earn this huge amount of foreign currency is that the capacity of satellite is usually sold before the launch while we have not taken any of this approach. Another challenge to utilise the potentials of the satellite is proper management. If it is run in the likes of many of our poorly managed state owned enterprises, it could well just be another losing concern in the long list ailing projects.