Bangabandhu Satellite-1 goes on commercial transmission

Ahmed Deepto . Dhaka | Update:

Bangabandhu Satellite-1. File photoBangladesh’s Bangabandhu Satellite-1 (BS-1) went into commercial transmission on Tuesday (1 October), more than one year after its launching from Kennedy Space Center in the US.

Bangladesh was the 57th nation in the world to join the elite satellite club, with the project costing Tk 29.02 billion.

Advertisements on the television channels claim that transmission through BS-1 will bring down the operation cost of the television channels.

But, the TV channel authorities fear interruption in transmission as the satellite would partly be connected through underground optical fibre.

The authorities also said if they go on transmission through the Bangabandhu Satellite, Bangladeshi channels would not be watched from the Middle East.

When the problems were raised to the state-owned Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited, the satellite service provider assured them of gradually fixing the problems.

For some channels will continue with the foreign satellites alongside the Bangabandhu Satellite.

On the other hand, people involved with the process said the transmission may be hampered as the communication between Dhaka and Gazipur is maintained through underground optical fibre.

Right now, Bangladesh has 34 satellite television channels that subscribe from Hong Kong-based Apstar 7 and AsiaSat satellites.

Officials at the TV channels said to avail services from BS-1, TV channels have to buy two modulators – one for Sajeeb Wazed Satellite Ground Station in Gazipur and other for Betbunia Satellite Earth Station.

To minimize the cost of the TV channels, the BCSCL has decided to lower its frequency charges.

Presently, TV channels use 5-6 MHz frequency. An MHz usually costs $4,000 that was lowered to $2,817 for BS-1 for the first year. The cost will rise to $3,500 the following year.

That means TV channels have to pay Tk 1.3 million to 2.5 million per month to avail services from foreign satellites while Bangabandhu Satellite will cost only Tk 1.2 million to 1.6 million.

One of the television channels’ transmission and information technology chief seeking anonymity told Prothom Alo, “We are now on signal transmission through Bangabandhu Satellite. The foreign satellite will also be on. Problems arise when foreign satellite stops sending signal. We have already informed BCSCL authorities about the matter.”

Bangladesh's first Nano satellite ‘Anwesha’ was launched on 2 June in 2017.

‘Anwesha’ project’s principal investigator and BRAC University associate professor Md Khalilur Rahman said TV channels are connected with Bangabandhu Satellite through the wire and wireless communication.

This communication between Dhaka and Gazipur maintained through the optical fibre may be severed due to construction works in Dhaka.

But, this expert thinks a ground station in Dhaka may erase the problem.

BCSCL chairman Shahjahan Mahmud told Prothom Alo that there was no point to be afraid.

Efforts are on to fix the technical problem. Satellite billing will start from November, he added.

Experts said the Bangabandhu Satellite will cover the whole world efficiently. As the orbit to locate the satellite was not vacant, Bangladeshi channels cannot be seen from the Middle East.

It is tough to get the right orbit, he said adding that an international body fixes the orbit for everyone.

The head of a TV channel's broadcast division said the channel authorities have to buy some uplinking tools to shift from foreign satellite to BS-1 and to make it wireless.

Channel owners will gradually replace the uplinking tools, he added.

DBC channel was closely connected with the BS-1 activities from the beginning.

Its transmission and engineering division’s chief Hamid Ullah told Prothom Alo that the TV channels are connected with the ground station in Gazipur through the optical fibre. Wire communication is quite risky.

If, he added, the Bangabandhu Satellite authorities ensure nonstop communication, TV channels will not be loser on any grounds.

*The report, published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam.

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