Bangladesh: Thaicom to market Bangabandhu-1

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Six countries chosen initially for business

An international consultancy has been appointed to market and sell connectivity of Bangabandhu-1 satellite in six countries, including four neighbours.

Thaicom, a renowned satellite company of Thailand currently active in around 20 countries, got into a two-year agreement under a revenue sharing model with state-owned Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited (BCSCL).

The country's first geostationary communication satellite can mostly cover South Asian countries alongside Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkestan and a part of Kazakhstan.

The coverage is the strongest in Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, for which these six countries have initially been chosen for business.

The satellite's operations include “direct-to-home” service for TV channels, VSAT (very small aperture terminal), backhaul and trunking, network restoration, disaster preparedness and relief.
BCSCL officials said it would take six months to develop product packages for marketing and sale. During this time, Thaicom will help Bangladesh get landing rights, which are permissions for using a satellite in a country.

Thaicom has given an undertaking to keep from marketing other satellites in those six countries for the duration of the agreement. “This will help avoid conflict,” said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the BCSCL board.

The BCSCL has written to Bangladesh missions in those six countries alongside their missions in Dhaka to make Bangabandhu-1's business process easier, he said.

“Actually we have zero experience in satellite business and we are so lucky that the BCSCL got a firm like Thaicom,” said Mahmood, also former chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission which ran the satellite launching project.

A top BCSCL official said Taicom would only get 10 percent of what is earned for Bangabandhu-1 while the BCSCL would bear fees and charges, including those for landing rights.

Project documents say the government plans to recoup the Tk 2,702 crore spent behind the satellite within seven years of the launch, which took place on May 11, most of it from the local market.

Officials said each local television channel currently spends $20,000 on an average every month behind satellite connectivity.

If 40 of the channels are taken into consideration, Bangabandhu-1 could earn $9.6 million every year, they said, adding that this was just one source of revenue, that too from local TV channels.

 Mahmood said they were already quite satisfied with Bangabandhu-1's performance during test runs -- the live broadcast of South Asian Football Federation Championship 2018. State-run BTV, which broadcast the matches, found the signal to be quite well, which will send out a positive message to the targeted market, he said.

French company Thales Alenia Space will conduct a final test on the solar-powered satellite's performance during a solar eclipse on September 21 before officially handing over the controls to the BCSCL.

(USD 1 = BDT 83.1181)

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