The British firm will recommend the type of satellite Bangabandhu-2 would be
The government has selected PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as the consultant for the country’s second satellite, the Bangabandhu-2.
The contract will most likely be signed on Tuesday, Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company (BCSCL), told Dhaka Tribune.
“The firm will tell us whether we need a communication satellite, similar to the Bangabandhu-1, or an observatory model.”
PwC will present a report on the satellite by March.
“Since we are still predominantly an agriculture-based society, a weather satellite is imperative,” he said, adding that the use of Bangabandhu-1 was limited to communication operations because it was a geostationary communication satellite.
Satellites can be classified by their function since they are launched into space to do a specific job and are designed accordingly.
For instance, the Bangabandhu-1 was designed to relay and receive signals from an earth station and then retransmit the signal to other earth stations.
The other types of satellites are: remote sensing, which collects information about an object; geocentric orbit; global positioning system (GPS); geostationary; drone; ground; polar; nanosatellites, CubeSats and SmallSats.
“We will work on that type of satellite recommended by PwC.”
The government plans to launch the Bangabandhu-2 satellite during the lifespan of the current satellite.
“The lifespan of the first satellite was estimated to be 15 years. But during handover, we came to know it is 18 years. So its services should be available until 2036.”
It takes 5-6 years to prepare a satellite, so work for it has started a couple of years ago.
“Since the second satellite will not be an alternative to the first one, some parts of the communication will be transferred to the second satellite so that it can be used when needed,” Mahmood added.
Meanwhile, the government is unlikely to recoup the Tk 3,000 crore it shelled out on launching the Bangabandhu -1 in 2018.
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, Mahmood said.
“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.”