Thursday, May 21, 2015

An Overview of the Products, Services and Business potentials of the Submarine Cable in Bangladesh


Md. Monwar Hossain                                                                                Parvez M. Ashraf    


Introduction

Bangladesh possesses great potentials in the ICT and Telecommunication sectors. As we are regularly experiencing, there is an increasing trend of using computers and availing mobile phone facilities or even the Tabs in the rural areas as in the urban areas of the Country. Bangladesh has got natural competitive advantage in terms of manpower, location and cost for establishing very promising Call Center or Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industries. Many young talents of the Country are already involved in IT related jobs like- Programming, Software development and outsourcing works, and thus the Software industry in Bangladesh has become flourishing with the continuous and restless efforts of the energetic Bangladeshi entrepreneurs within the last few years. Opening and widening up the opportunities with proper Government initiatives and support of the private sector can build a strong IT based infrastructure. The global ICT market has already appraised about the skills and standards of the Bangladeshi talents.  However, all these services and activities related to IT would depend heavily on the internet and International data connectivity.  Presently there are around 120 million mobile phone users and around 44 million Internet users in the country. In addition to usage of mobile phones for voice calls, there is a substantial increase in internet usage through mobile communications in rural and urban areas. ICT and Telecommunication services are getting increasingly popular to the people because these sectors have contributed much in changing their economic condition to a higher level. It is because of the Submarine Cable, that various service providers such as IIG, IGW, BWA, etc. have been benefitted and Internet traffic for both Voice and Data has increased exponentially in Telecommunication industry of Bangladesh. With the efficient and effective utilization of the enormous potentials of the Submarine Cable, the Telecommunications and ICT sector promises a significant contribution to the economy of Bangladesh to boost the nation into a middle income country soon.

Role of the Submarine Cable in Expansion of Broadband Internet in Bangladesh

In the past, before the submarine cable era started in Bangladesh, the long distance telecommunication of Bangladesh was dependent on Satellite systems with severe limitation of bandwidth and speed of communication. We have become aware now that the availability of Internet with high magnitude of bandwidth has great impact on the economic development of the country. Becoming a member of South East Asia- Middle East-Western Europe-4 (SEA-ME-WE-4) consortium, Bangladesh received initial capacity of 7.5 Gbps. Presently, capacity of Bangladesh in SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine Cable System of BSCCL is around 200 Gbps. In recent years, as a result of connecting with submarine cable system there were rapid expansions of the broadband internet industry, resulting in over 180 registered ISP's by 2005 and the number of Internet subscriptions grew from 186,000 in 2000 to 617,300 in 2009. According to official reports, in Bangladesh the total number of Internet Subscribers has reached 36.25 million at the end of August 2013 which is around 23% of the total population.  

The Submarine Cable under BSCCL could provide services to the subscribers at much cheaper price than others as BSCCL would be able to connect many international IP transit points with its own submarine cable system. Bangladesh would expect good revenue earnings by introducing licenses for these services. As a result of connecting with the submarine cable system there were rapid expansions of the broadband internet industry. Keeping the “Vision 2021, Digital Bangladesh” in view, the Government of Bangladesh has exclusive plans to extend the broadband internet and telecommunication facilities for the benefits of the people as elaborated in Government’s ILDTS (International Long Distance Telecommunication Service), Broadband and ICT Policies: the Broadband Penetration rate required to be pulled up from 7% (2011) to 30% within year 2015, by 2015, all the union councils are needed to be under the broadband network, by 2013, about 1.7 million educational institutions (schools and colleges) were supposed to be provided with broadband connections, etc. Already the DCs (District Commissioners) and ADCs are connected; and 1000 Union Councils would be connected through optical fibers and fiber optic connectivity will reach Upazilla Health Centers to provide access to information, video conferencing, telemedicine, etc. The Government has formulated the new standard of Broadband and the bandwidth has to be at least 5 Mbps to meet that standard. To implement the policies and the Vision 2021, a large amount of bandwidth needs to be made available to the Government which will be provided by the Submarine Cable.

After catering for the needs for bandwidth inside the country, Bangladesh has still got opportunities to lease out submarine cable bandwidth to land locked neighboring countries like Nepal and Bhutan. BSCCL is presently working to design for links to Indian North-Eastern provinces for transport of IP transit as below;

(a)  Cox’s Bazar – Chittagong – Comilla – B. baria – Akhaura – Agortola
(b) Cox’s Bazar – Chittagong – Comilla – B. baria – Sylhet – Tamabil – Shilong (Meghalaya).

There is a demand of BSCCL bandwidth in Myanmar also. If BSCCL could be involved to tap the Telecom requirements of those parts of the Globe, it could earn a good deal of foreign currency during the life-times of the submarine cables.

Principal products and services of BSCCL

Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) is an International Long Distance Communications and International Internet Gateway (IIG) operator that provides various Telecommunications services through the Submarine Cable network.


BSCCL has a Submarine Cable Landing Station located at Jhilongja, Cox’s Bazar from where Backhaul Service Providers are connected. Clients can connect their fiber optic cable for IPLC (International Private Leased Circuits) service from co-location centers (Presently at Chittagong, Mohakhali/Dhaka and Moghbazar) of Backhaul Service Providers. Moreover, with a view to provide multiple options for backhaul connectivity, a co-location centre has been established in Cox's bazar landing station. BSCCL's valued clients can choose their backhaul providers who could directly connect their fibers at the co-location centers of BSCCL. BSCCL is the root service provider of submarine cable bandwidth and handles country’s only submarine cable. Presently, BSCCL is providing the following services:

  • Bandwidth service for different routes and different levels such as STM-1, STM-4, STM-16 to the International Internet Gateway (IIG) companies through International Private Leased Circuits (IPLC).
  • Bandwidth service for different routes and different levels such as STM-1, STM-4, STM-16 to the International (Voice) Gateway (IGW) companies.
  • IP Transit Services to IIG companies
  • IPLC services to any Corporate Customers as per the approval of telecommunications regulatory body of Bangladesh.
  • IIG (International Internet Gateway) which should help the people to get broadband Internet with cheaper rate and better quality of service.


Presently, the Company offers the following products:

  1. IPLC (International Private Leased Circuit) for IIG
  2. IPLC (International Private Leased Circuit) for IGW
  3. IPLC (International Private Leased Circuit) with IP Transit for IIG
  4. IIG (International Internet Gateway) Services for ISP
  5. Dedicated Leased Circuits for Corporate Clients
An International Private Leased Circuit (IPLC) is a dedicated end-to-end connectivity between any two points of locations. It is suitable for IIG, IGW and also for International & National Organizations/Corporations (who require reliable & secure links with committed bandwidth for data/voice/video/internet communications between their offices).
Key Benefits of BSCCL’s IPLC and Internet Gateway services are the following:

1)      High Bandwidth Dedicated Full Duplex Digital Communication
2)      Private, Reliable & Secure
3)      Fast, Efficient & Error free
4)      Global Reach through India, Malaysia, Singapore, Middle East & Europe.
5)      One Stop Shopping Facilities
6)      24 x 7 Tech Support
7)      Constant exchange of Data, Voice, Video, etc. in large volumes & in various formats between multiple destinations.

Joining with the Second Submarine Cable

Existing SMW-4 cable is the only submarine cable that has kept Bangladesh connected with the international information superhighway. Due to any calamity or other reasons, if this cable gets into any kind of physical damage or disruption, country’s international long distance telecommunication would suffer badly. That’s why Bangladesh has been working for long to achieve redundancy for the existing SEA-ME-WE-4 (SMW-4) Submarine Cable as it is a necessity for the country to support for Internet and voice traffic during outage in the SMW-4 cable.

The new SEA-ME-WE-5 (SMW-5) cable will be another submarine cable connecting South East Asia with Western Europe through Middle East and Africa. The cable would also be extended to Hong Kong and Japan. Bangladesh will join as a branch party to this submarine cable. BSCCL worked with the SMW-5 Consortium for implementation of a Branch Sharing arrangement with Myanmar through the “Branch on Branch” architecture, which has helped Bangladesh to reduce the cost in a significant way.

SMW-5 Submarine Cable System will be a 100G DWDM based 20,000 Km long repeatered system that is planned to connect eighteen (18) landing stations. The system will be built with three (3) fiber pairs having 80 λ/fiber-pair (λ, pronounced as “lambda”, is the Greek letter for wavelength of Light), so 80 x 100 Gbps = 8 (eight) Terabits per second capacity for each fiber pair; thus providing a very high design capacity of 24 Terabits per second.

The technology that made this 100 G transmission possible is Polarization Multiplexed QPSK modulation (PM-QPSK) with a coherent receiver. Modulation is required to ensure propagation, to perform multiple accesses and to enhance the SNR, as well as to achieve bandwidth compression. PM-QPSK modulation technique would decrease the baud or symbol rate of the system, using four bits per symbol, keeping the optical spectrum four times narrower than the unreduced baud rate. Because of the capability to pass through multiple Optical Add-Drop Multiplexers (OADMs) and its practical PMD (Polarization Mode Dispersion) tolerance, PM-QPSK is recognized as a viable format for deployment within 50GHz-spaced systems.

Alcatel-Lucent of France and NEC of Japan have been selected for jointly work on building the system.  Both suppliers will use their latest high performance equipments, cable and systems using efficient DWDM, Polarization Division Multiplexed Digital Phase Modulation/Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (PDM-QPSK or DP-QPSK) and Coherent detection technologies, with highly flexible ROADMs (Reconfigurable Optical Add-Drop Multiplexer) along the links.

The Submarine Line Terminal Equipments (SLTEs) will handle very high speed traffic transported to a long distance; and the system will be extremely reliable with sufficient protection schemes and high speed automatic protection switching.

Advantages of joining the SMW-5 Consortium

Joining the SMW-5 cable consortium is expected to bring about a number of benefits for both BSCCL as a submarine cable company, and Bangladesh, as a country. Some of those benefits are described below:

(i) For extending the voice traffic to different parts of the World particularly Middle East, Europe and America, Bangladesh can have chances to reach these destinations almost without any extra charges.

(ii) For IP Transit, Bangladesh would have multi-choices to bring IP bandwidth at a cheaper rate covering both east & west side destinations. This means that BSCCL shall have better opportunity to arrange its traffic (IP) from cheaper destinations of East & West.


(iii) Bangladesh as a country would enjoy the total benefit of redundancy of the circuits & also the multiple destinations for SMW-5.

(iv)  The unit cost for bandwidth would be much cheaper in case of SMW-5 cable. Moreover, the adaptation of future technology for future expansion can be easy approachable.

(v)   There would be a very good opportunity to flourish BPO industries (Call centers, data entry, Software export etc) in Bangladesh with the support of two submarine cable communication systems.

An additional plan has also been made by BSCCL to interconnect the two submarine cable Landing Stations of Bangladesh with a submarine cable. In this way, the two landing stations Cox’s Bazar (for SMW-4) and Kuakata (for SMW-5) will be interlinked. The estimated length of this link is estimated as of the length of 350 Km. It is planned to be made of 2 (two) fiber pairs with an initial capacity of 100 Gbps/per fiber pair and 16 Tbps as design capacity. Other important feature proposed in this submarine cable system is that this would be a repeater less system with a design life of about 25 years. The two submarine cable systems will also be interconnected through a terrestrial DWDM backbone. However, there are vulnerabilities of cable cuts at any location along the route of the terrestrial system, and the interconnection through both the Submarine Cable and Terrestrial System working as a ring will ensure the strong security and redundancy in the Submarine Cable Infrastructure of Bangladesh which will keep the core communication infrastructure seamlessly connected to the Information Superhighway.

Conclusion

The network of submarine or undersea cables around the earth has made today’s broadband internet very fast. It further holds the potential of offering more data transmission capacity.  The global network of today is made of extensive undersea submarine and terrestrial network segments linked together to connect almost all continents of the world. With the development of branching units, more than one destination can be served by a single cable system. Now-a-days, a vast majority of the international traffic is carried by the submarine cables. The reliability of submarine cables is considered high, as multiple paths can be made available in the event of a cable break. Also, the typical information carrying capacity of a single optical fiber in the submarine cables is several terabits per second (Tbps) with such small latencies as just a few milliseconds (ms). It is almost impossible for any other system to match with these submarine cable systems in terms of signal quality, bit-rate (capacity) and latency. Thus, there is a good demand for the optical submarine cable links and these have become national assets to the owner countries.

References

  1. Alcatel: www.alcatel-lucent.com/submarine/
  2. NEC: http://www.nec.com/en/global/prod/nw/submarine/index.html
  3. Optical Internetworking Forum: http://www.oiforum.com/
  4. Telegeography: www.telegeography.com
  5. Suboptic Forum: www.suboptic.org
  6. Infinera: www.infinera.com
  7. Optical Fiber Telecommunications part V- vol. B (Systems and Networks) edited by I. P. Kaminow,T. Li & A. E. Willner
  8. Performance of Dual-Polarization QPSK for Optical Transport Systems by K. Roberts, M. O’Sullivan, K. T. Wu, H. Sun, A. Awadalla, D. J. Krause, & C. Laperle
  9. Latest Technology of Optical Transmission System (40G/100G Solutions) Deployed in SMW-4 Submarine Cable Upgrade and the Bandwidth Situation in Bangladesh by Md. Monwar Hossain & Parvez M. Ashraf (published in Teletech 2011)
  10. Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (100 G Solution) adopted in SMW-5 Submarine Cable System - What is in the Laboratory for Higher Bandwidth Solution? by Md. Monwar Hossain & Parvez M. Ashraf (published in Teletech 2012)
  11. Use of Advanced Optical Transmission Technologies for Redundancy in the Submarine Cable Systems of Bangladesh by Md. Monwar Hossain & Parvez M. Ashraf (published in Teletech 2013)
  12. Joining Bangladesh with the Second Submarine Cable (SEA-ME-WE-5) by Md. Monwar Hossain & Parvez M. Ashraf (published in Teletech 2014)
  13. Acknowledgment: Mr. Md. Zakirul Alam, DGM (Development), BSCCL for Information & diagrams on SMW-5 Project & Mr. Abdul Wahhab, DGM (IIG), BSCCL for the Information & diagrams on IIG and IP Transit Setups.
________________________________________________________________________

Md. Monwar Hossain: Managing Director, BSCCL
Parvez M. Ashraf: Deputy General Manager (Bandwidth Planning), BSCCL

Friday, May 15, 2015

BTCL striving for excellence.

Md. Aminul Hassan
GM, Transmission, BTCL.

Dial Up

Dialup is simply the application of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to carry data on behalf of the end user. Dial up networking technology provides PCs and other network devices access to a LAN or WAN via standard telephone lines. It involves a customer premises equipment (CPE) device sending the telephone switch a phone number to direct a connection to.

A dial-up connection can be initiated manually or automatically by personal computer's  modem or other device. BTCL offers subscription plans for home computer users.
Types of dial up services include V.34 and V.90 modem as well as ISDN. Dial up systems utilize special-purpose network protocols like Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP).
The performance of dial up networking is relatively poor due to the limitations of traditional modem technology. V.90 modem dial up supports less than 56 Kbps Bandwidth and ISDN handles approximately 128Kbps. Many home users are currently replacing their dial up services with high-speed broadband technologies that operate at much higher speeds

ISDN

ISDN is the abbreviation of integrated services digital network. It is international standard for sending Voice and Data over digital telephone on normal telephone wire.
There are two types of ISDN:
· Basic Rate Interface  (BRI) -- consists of two 64-Kbps  B-channel s and one  D-channel  for transmitting control information.
· Primary Rate Interface  (PRI) -- consists of or 30 B-channels and one D-channel. The co-axial cable can be used in this case. Normally use E1 connectivity. 

In both the services end-user can transfer voice and data (e.g. Video Conferencing) at end-to-end level. The protocol in the core is ISDN user part (ISUP) and DSS1 (Q.931) in the terminal side. The data packet can be transparently passed between/among the end users.

BTTB started the ISDN service both in Basic rate and primary rate. The service first inaugurated in May 2003 by the then Honorable Prime minister. Commercial service of Basic rate was started in Sept 2006 by providing service to GrameenPhone and Primary rate started in April 2009 to ADN. The vendor for the service was Nortel Netas at the beginning but now other vendor like Huawei also come up by providing PRI service. 
Currently BTCL providing PRI services more than 30 different organizations including US, Canada, Sweden embassy.

ADSL

Data was introduced in 2006, Telephone companies backed xDSL technology to provide next generation high bandwidth services to the home and business using the existing telephone cooper cabling infrastructure. xDSL Refers collectively to all types of digital subscriber lines, in which the two main categories: the Asymmetric DSL (ADSL) and the symmetric DSL (SDSL).  

xDSL to the home over existing phone lines promises bandwidths up to theoretically 8.448 megabits per second and more, but distance limitations and line quality conditions can reduce the data rate. xDSL technologies uses a greater range of frequencies over the telephone cable than the traditional telephone services have used.  This in turn allows for greater bandwidth with which to send and receive information, enabling for example continuous transmission of motion video, audio, and even 3-D effects.
xDSL utilizes more

GPON :

At present BTCL is providing its end user with voice service as well as ADSL based  internet service over its traditional copper wired network all over Bangladesh. As ADSL has huge limitations in terms of no. connections and data speed capacity, BTCL is introducing a latest technology, GPON  in its network. GPON stands for Gigabit Passive Optical Networks. These short-haul network ( max. 20 km) of fiber-optical cable supports triple-play services of  Internet access, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), and digital TV delivery simultaneously. It  can deliver 2.488 Gbits/s downstream and 1.244 Gbits/s upstream.
GPON cuts floor space and electricity usages in office building by as much as 95% compared to traditional copper networks, leading to the claim that GPON is a green technology.

GPON network is being laid down by BTCL through its two projects, RODTS (171KL) and TNDP.  Already GPON/Triple play services  are being used by the subscribers of Mirpur DOHS. RODTS(171KL) will install GPON network of 37,700 connections in Dhaka and TNDP will install a network of 1,01,940 connections in Dhaka and Chittagong metropolitan cities.
structure where network antenna or communication equipment placed.

LTE

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution.LTE provides high speed data connectivity through wireless media. Its optimal speed is 27.8 Mbps downlink. It’s a 4G technology which is ready to mitigate digital divide and reach the unreachable. To fulfill the digital Bangladesh goal of present Government BTCL has taken “Installation Wireless Broadband Network for Digital Bangladesh” project. The main components of this project are installation of core network at two different places in Dhaka, Installation of 670 at different District, Upazillas throughout the country including 7(Seven) Divisional Headquarters.  Total cost of the project is 95684.24 Lac Taka in which Project aid from EDCF Korea is 61215.00 Lac taka(near about 65% of total cost) and GoB (F.E.) is 34469.24 Lac Taka. Project duration is from May 2014 to June 2017.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Focus on broadband speed and its significance on development sustainability - Mamun Monzurul Aziz

A. NEED FOR SPEED:
In today’s society all over the world, accessibility to the Internet, with all its possibilities, is a greatly important part of people’s everyday life. This holds true seen anywhere from an individual’s perspective to large organizations on a macro scale. In order to use common Internet services, a fast connection is essential. Broadband, which is a collection of high-speed techniques for Internet connection, which is still under constant development, is a very indispensable focus now a day.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Empowering Farmers Through Connecting to Market Through ICT in Bangladesh -Mohammad Taherul Islam*

Brief Description
Accounting for 18.87% of the GDP, agriculture and rural economy play a strategic role in accelerating economic growth and alleviating poverty in Bangladesh. When forward and backward linkages are taken into account, the agriculture and agribusiness contribution to GDP is estimated at about 35%. In a country, where 60% of the workforce is absorbed by agriculture, farmers’ needs come as a priority when envisioning the country’s future. “e-Agriculture” is an emerging field where Information and Communication technologies or ICTs (Radio, TV, Cell Phone, PDAs, PCs) can help farmers boost productivity by giving them access to vital information, such as weather forecasts, crop advice and market pricing, empower them by establishing linkages with policy makers and promote growth or agri businesses and rural enterprises by connecting the country with the international market. The MLP concept has been developed with the vision of utilizing the benefits of ICT and the huge opportunities that internet provides as a development enabler for rural people. The Market Linkage Program (MLP) is online information and trading portal for agricultural products. Access to market (information and transaction) for the farmers is a major constraint in Bangladesh which causes financial loss and hinders improvement in livelihood process. The core purpose of MLP is to address the needs of farmers for marketing (selling) their produces at fair price and also to provide updated price and market
information to them. The platform will act simultaneously as a virtual market place for actors in the value chain including farmers, local traders, wholesale/retail traders, bulk buyers and also physical service facilities through telecentres / information centres.
* Assistant Divisional Engineer, Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited



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Fig 1: Market Linkage Program (MLP) Model Through this service sellers will be able to sell their goods without going to the physical market. Likewise, buyers will be able to search for their desired items available from all over the country over the internet. The scope of the service includes online negotiation and ordering system for agro commodities along with secure mobile payment mechanism built within the system. Mobile based instructions will go to the bank system for online fund transfer. Agents will work as the human interface between sellers and buyers in order to ensure smooth delivery of goods form end to end. Sellers will be able to withdraw money at any time from ATM booths, banks, cash-out agents or POS outlets. The platform will be accessible from multiple access points such as Community Information Centers (CICs), mobile phones or any point with internet connectivity which will make it more convenient for users. Other than online trading opportunity, MLP will also provide various value added services such as market information, price information, database of various chain actors, Quality Control, demand-supply data etc.
Objectives
The MLP is to remove trade barriers in the existing agriculture value chain in Bangladesh. The broad objectives of empowering farmers through connecting to market through ICT in Bangladesh are:
l. Fostering rural prosperity and grassroots level development by empowering farmers with information, knowledge and training;
ll. Developing a decentralized, localized and non-human based extension program with proper management and efficient delivery;
lll. Promoting, supporting and enhancing rural farm and non-farm enterprises;
lV. Mainstreaming ICT in the areas of agricultural research, development, education, extension and training;
V. Empowering farmers through creating opportunity to access wider markets by utilizing the mobile phone, internet and other ICT tools as a development enabler;
Vl. Facilitate framers an alternative market channel to address their demands for selling their produces in fair prices;
Vll. Facilitate various value added services for agro-products;
Vlll. Establish e-trading system in agro-commodity trading in Bangladesh;
lX. Reverse the supply driven market system into a demand driven one.
ICT Pathways to Poverty Reduction as Empowering Like Farmers Model With that in mind, “e-Agriculture Vision 2025” envisages a Bangladesh where:
• The village population would still be heavily dependent on agriculture for income and employment, but productivity would have increased through diversification as farms apply productivity-enhancing technologies and environmentally-friendly technologies.
WORLD TELECOMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SOCIETY DAY 2014
• Commercialization and Agri-business would be less vulnerable to agronomic and market risks.
• The number of rural non-farm (backward/forward linkage) enterprises would grow, though most would remain small. Most enterprises may be in trading and services with small-scale manufacturing to strengthen backward and forward linkages to agriculture locally.
• Farmers would be economically active, nationally organized, and socially conscious and have a voice in policy formulation.
Priority Areas for Vision Implementation of Empowering Farmers
In order to implement the vision, this document identifies seven priority areas and explores role of ICT.
1. Human resource development
New and emerging technologies such as those involving integrated crop management and improved nutrient balance are increasingly becoming complex and location specific. Literacy lessons for farmers, combined with computer courses can facilitate agricultural education and training. ICT can also play a vital role in women empowerment. Telecentres can create jobs for women and promote women-run enterprises through which, they can earn money by offering their information and communication services to fellow community members.
2. Research and Development
Use of ICT in research and development relate more to the applications and uses to which the ICTs are put, the ways they are organized and the ways in which ICTs are embedded in the wider policy, research and outreach work of research institutes. It is important to devise appropriate frameworks that agricultural research institutes in Bangladesh can use to ensure that they most effectively apply ICTs and knowledge to achieve their goals and objectives. Developing a shared vision, identify key information and knowledge processes and devising organizational structures are likely to be critical elements in such strategic frameworks.
3. Rural Finance
ICT innovations such as a personal computer connected to the internet, an automated teller machine (ATM), a point-of-sale (POS) device located at a local retail or postal outlet may be less expensive to establish than branches located in rural areas and more convenient for customers. The proliferation of mobile services in Bangladesh has created a unique opportunity to provide financial services over the mobile network (ex: flexiload). Remote mobile loan payments can be initiated using short message service (SMS), also known as text messaging, and wireless application protocol (WAP) technologies.
4. Extension Service
Extension organizations have a key role in brokering between communication technologies, providers of those technologies and services, and the client groups they serve. Extent workers, equipped with ICTs add tremendous strength to already existing wide rage of service. Some of those strengths include: o A new range of additional media that can be part of the communication for development “mix” of traditional and/or appropriate media.
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o Bottom up articulation and sharing of information on needs and local knowledge; o Increased efficiency in use of development resources because information is more widely accessible; o Less duplication of activities o Rapid speed of communication - locally, nationally and globally o Reduced communication costs in comparison to other available communication choices
5. Agribusiness
ICT can serve to bridge the digital divide and provide relevant business and market information to rural areas to reduce their isolation and foster new income-generating activities in the agribusiness and other non-farm activities by improving communication linkages between growers, processors and retailers for a better transfer of knowledge and technology, developing forecasting of market prices and disseminating prices to producers etc. Individuals or groups in geographically based ICT enabled communities may find themselves connected to one or more different forms of online communities. Online participation can lead to greater face-to-face participation with the geographic community. Relationships therefore form in both directions, with one potentially increasing the livelihood of the other. Such interactions have implications for the evolution of nature service delivery by e-Government and the growth of new agribusiness products to consumers and communities.
6. Natural Disaster
The consequences of natural and man-made disasters and the vulnerabilities to which populations are exposed can be mitigated if they are targeted proactively. Information and communications technology (ICT) can potentially play a pivotal role in disaster prevention, mitigation and management. Remote sensing for early warning is made possible by various available technologies, including telecommunication satellites, radar, telemetry and meteorology. ICT encompasses both traditional media (radio, television) as well as new media (cell broadcasting, Internet, satellite radio), all of which can play a major role in educating the public on the risks of a potential or impending disaster. Furthermore, ICT plays a critical role in facilitating the reconstruction process and in coordinating the return of those displaced by disasters to their original homes and communities.
7. Value and Promote Social Capital
Through access and effective use of ICT individuals and communities have a greater opportunity for engagement with others, broadening their understandings and building bonding, bridging and linking capital. Greater participation in communities is assumed to contribute to stronger social capital within the community at the local, state, national and global levels and hence contributes to improved economic and social outcomes.
Enabling Policy Environment
Although the National Agriculture Policy of Bangladesh does not currently include a national integrated ICT strategy, most entities, however, within the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (Training, Research and Development) have their own vision, strategy for ICT. At the top level, the importance of ICT development is recognized and supported. In order to put an e-Agriculture enabling environment in place, the development and implementation of various e-Policies and e-Strategies should always remain supreme in the processes. These policies should:
o Build capacity of rural stakeholders and extension workers in use and application of ICT o Enhance farmers’ and producers’ access to market information and information on farming techniques and practices.
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6  INFORMATION SOCIETY DAY 2014
o Enhance farmers’ access to rural finance thus promote rural enterprises. o Improve dissemination of and access to scientific and technical information. o Enhance access to statistics and other types of information policy and decision-making. o Develop virtual communities/networks for information and knowledge exchange between rural stakeholders, as well as for their empowerment through participation. o Encourage Pubic-Private Partnership especially in the areas of human resource development, extension and agribusiness promotion.
Priority Actions
A vision reflects people’s aspirations, their potential for growth and development, and lays out the efforts needed to fulfill the vision. Therefore, in order to attain the full potential of a nation that is depicted in the vision we need to prioritize actions which would mobilize initiatives from different levels of public and private sectors in a focused manner
Community-Based Information Center
Leverage the existing infrastructure of Union Parishad, IPM/ICM clubs and/or other COBs to set up integrated digital information centers for farmers. These community-based information centers would provide a platform for local public and private organizations that are working in the field of agriculture to come together and offer coordinated support and service to the agriculture community. This could also be a venue for male and female, young and old farmers, fishermen and livestock owners to interact and lean together. Although seemingly negligible, these would afford the villages a voice that can be heard at a distance, and if sustained, carry prospects for altering previous relationships with extension workers, traditional communication systems and modes of learning that are usually provided top-down. Within the AICC network, farmers from the different pilot sites would be able to share indigenous information, serve as each other’s “experts” and learn from each other. Some of the perceived benefits farmers could receive through an AICC are listed below.
Farmers’ Call Centre
Establish call centres to address the need of the farming community making use of increased tele-density and Information Technology. Call centers will provide professional help, information and real-timem solution available to farmers at their doorstep, on a subsidized or toll-free telephone number. The content/expert advice may be provided by Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock while the physical infrastructure of the call centers may be set up in partnership with private sector players.
Radio/TV Programs
Improve quality of existing radio and tv agriculture related shows and introduce new programs in the form of talk shows, farmers’ phone-in programs in the public channels/stations. Strengthening partnership with private channels to procure agriculture related programs and broadcast using public mediums will also be initiated. Coordination shall be improved to motivate and strengthen performance of various media personnel including news reporters, producers, anchors, working in the field of agriculture
Agriculture Database
Create a electronic database, which compiles and collates the actual location specific need of farmers and classifies it in an intelligent format for use by decision makers, researchers, traders and industrialists. The database will also trap the traditional knowledge systems available with the farming community to enrich the knowledge bank in agricultural sector and their application in the farmers’ fields.
Agriculture Encyclopedia
Develop a dynamic e-Agriculture encyclopedia for use by farmers, agriculture extension workers, agro-input dealers and various other stakeholders, which will also provide an opportunity for the scholars and agriculture scientists to play a dynamic role in the transformation of Bangladeshi agriculture to a sustainable one.
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Coordination
Ensure better coordination amongst service agencies and research organizations within Ministry of Agriculture. Develop methods to monitor and evaluate effectiveness and efficiency of extension service and all layers of information flow through ICT.
Expected Results
The goal of the Market Linkage Program is to integrate the existing agro-value chain actors and make them a part of an online based service platform. The direct benefits expected from these empowering farmers through connecting to market through ICT in Bangladesh are:
l. Most of farmers will be directly and indirectly benefited through the Market Linkage Program;
ll. An inclusive and efficient online platform for direct upstream sales opportunity for farmers and other value chain actors;
lll. Online database/portfolio of local agro-value chain actors;
lV. Develop a process to ensure easy access to price information through which sellers will be able to compare different market prices and increase their bargaining capacity;
V. Increase internet uptake and ICT enabled services in rural areas;
Vl. Demand-supply data created which will help forecasting and integrated planning of production and harvesting;
Vll. Create an online network of producers and buyers and other stakeholders all over the country;
Vlll. MLP grading system established to ensure quality products;
lX. Involving intermediaries in MLP with defined value-addition role will bring transparencies and reduce their influences on price and procurement process.
X. Financial institutions involved and create new opportunities for various financial services for agro value chain actors, specially farmers;
Xl. Create new employment and business opportunities such as, MLP agents, business promoter, online trading centres etc.;
Xll. Awareness building among the stakeholders including other telecom operators, bulk buyers and value chain actors on using ICT enabled trading services;
References
l. http://www.idrc.ca/EW/Resources/ Publications/Openbook/539-7/Index.html
2. http://www.itu.int/en/ITUD/Conferences/ connect/AsiaPacific/Documents/Projects
_publication_CASP_2013-e.pdf
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_ and_communication_technologies_for_d
evelopment
4. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/E-Commerce _and_E-Business/E- Commerce in_
Developing_ Countries
6. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), October, 2013
7. Communications, IEEE Transaction on Volume 62 Issue 4, December, 2013

8. Frieden, R. (2013). ITU World Telecom 2013 report. Info, 9(4), 81-83

Technology Assessment (TA): Importance, Surroundings, Process, and the Application Perspective in Bangladesh



-AKM Golam Baharul

1.0 Introduction
Technology is the human activity that changes the material world around us to satisfy our needs. The ability to apply technological methods separates men from other animals. Technology is closely related to science and engineering. Science deals with human’s understanding of real world around them- the interesting properties of space, matter, energy and their interactions. Engineering is the application of objective knowledge to the creation of plans, designs and means for achieving desired objectives. Technology deals with the tools and techniques for carrying out the plans. It has long been recognized that the adoption of modern technology in various sectors of economy is the key to economic progress and national development. The major objectives of technology planning are to identify or develop right kind of technologies and apply them in productive activities. Accomplishment of the objective of course, requires knowledge about the strength, weakness and implications of technologies in various sectors of development. This means that technology assessment is an important first step towards disciplining the technological initiative.
2.0 Special features and basic component of Technology
World is becoming increasingly interdependent because of Technological advancement. We cannot set technological clock back as many changes are irreversible. But we have to remember that uncontrolled technological development is suicidal. Special features of Technology are:
a) Technology is man-made.
b) It is produced in R&D cell of both private and public sectors.
c) There is a price of a Technology. It is not given away free.
d) Technology is a marketable commodity, it has market value.
e) Its price depends on bargaining strength.
f) It is a new form of currency.
g) It provides comparative advantage. For developing countries like Bangladesh, a sustained effort for a controlled technological development & systematic application is necessary. Judicious management of tech to maximize benefits and minimize negative effects is required. The Basic Components of Technology are:
1) Techno ware: Equipment, machinery, tools, structures, etc.
2) Human ware: Knowledge, skill, creativity, expertise, proficiency, experience, etc
3) Info ware: Theories, relations, designs, specification, blue print, manual, Population, Documents, blue-print, etc.
4) Orgaware: Management practices, linkages, consulting & design firms, legal framework etc.
* Divisional Engineer, Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited
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Fig1: Four Basic Components of Technology.
3.0 Technology Assessment
Technology assessment (TA) is a scientific, interactive and communicative process that aims to contribute to the formation of public and political opinion on societal aspects of science and technology. Technology assessment was originally conceived of as an analytic activity, aimed at providing decision makers with an objective analysis of effects of a technology. Early in the history of technology assessment, it became clear that assessment projects must involve multiple perspectives. The main concept of Technology assessment:
► TA is a Policy research which provides a comprehensive evaluation of tech to decision makers. It identifies the policy issues; assess the consequences of alternative causes of action & presents findings as guidelines for decision making.
► TA can be defined as both an intellectual and socio-political process of exploring, evaluating & selecting options made possible by technology including those technologies which will actually be developed, applied and diffused.
► TA consists of ascertaining the trend of technological change & the resulting
implications for all relevant sectors of society, systematically evaluating the consequences which may be direct and indirect, intended and unintended, beneficial and adverse of such
developments in terms of their probability, severity, and distribution. Figure 2: Positioning Technology Assessment within the policy-making/ technology Development process.
4.0 Main Characteristics of the TA
Technology Assessment is a Multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) problem which is a sub-discipline of operations research that explicitly considers multiple criteria in decision-making environments. In TA there are typically multiple conflicting criteria that need to be evaluated in making decisions. The characteristic of TA:
(a) It includes multi-variant analysis: Many variables with different units of measure are considered.
(b) It concerned with multi-order impacts: Direct as well as indirect impacts are considered.
WORLD TELECOMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SOCIETY DAY 2014
(c) It Incorporates multi-constituency effects: Needs of a wide range of social groups are considered.
(d) It implies multi-disciplinary approach: All aspects of human life are considered.
(e) It demands multi-timeframe balancing: Both short terms wants and long term needs are considered.
(f) It Requires multi-criteria optimization: Both maximum of positive and minimum of negative effects are considered.
(g) It involves dynamic features: Continuous interaction between technology and surroundings are considered.
5.0 Major Purposes of TA for Developing Countries
Developing countries is the importer or buyer of Technology and the developed countries is the exporter or seller of Technology. So, TA is very much important for Developing/LDC countries because of:
(1) Evaluation of appropriateness of technologies for transfer and adaptation: Identify existing technology (available in developed countries) that are somewhat compatible and have scope for adaptation within the surrounding in developing countries.
(2) Selection of technologies for development: Identify those existing indigenous or existing exogenous technologies for development that are consistent with national goals.
(3) Control of inappropriate technologies for the protection of environment: Identify corrective measures for all local & imported technology for protection of environment.
6.0 Seven Surroundings of Technology Assessment
For Technology Assessment the following seven Factors must have to be considered for
selecting the Appropriate Technology (AP):
1) Technological Factors: Technical utility (capability; reliability; efficiency),Options of technology (flexibility; scale),Availability of infrastructure (support; services).
(2) Economic Factors: Economic feasibility (cost-benefit), Improvement in productivity (capital; resources), Market potentials (size; elasticity).
(3) Resource Factors: Availability of material and energy sources, Availability of financial resources, Availability of skilled manpower.
4) Environmental Factors:-Impact on physical environment (air, water; land),
Impact on living conditions (comfort; noise), Impact on life (safety; health).
(5) Population Factors: Growth of population (rate; life expectancy),Level of education (literacy rate),Labour characteristics (unemployment; structure).
(6) Socio-Cultural Factors: Impact on individual (life quality), Impact on society (values), Compatibility with existing culture.                                                                                                     (7) Politico-Legal Factors: Political acceptability, Mass need satisfaction, Compatibility with institutions and policies. Figure 3: Interaction of Technology with Human Surroundings
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7.0 The Process of Technology Assessment
There are several steps for the Technology Assessment. The steps may be identified as:
Step-1: Identification of the problem:
Stock-taking of existing situation and regulations, determination of time horizon and level of analysis, setting boundaries and objectives.
Step-2:Description of alternatives being assessed:                                                                    Inventory of relevant technological alternatives, current state-of-the-art Technology and Technological forecasting.
Step-3: Establishment of assessment Factors:
Description of relevant factors, identification of variables and types of effects, classification of variables (change with different alternatives).
Step-4: Evaluation of expected effect:
Analysis and measurement of effects, representation of various effects, and integration of all expected effects.
Step-5: Formulation of action options:
Identification of all possible action options, development of programs for action, analysis of consequence for each option.
Step-6: Choice of suitable action:                                                                                        Influence of various decision makers, justification of the final choice, and choice of the most suitable alternative. Figure4: The Overall Assessment and Follow-up Plan of TA
8.0 Application of TA in Bangladesh:
As a developing/LDC country, Bangladesh can take the advantages of late starter situation of Technology and can avoid mistakes of predecessor. But it is only possible when TA will be done properly before taking any project. The surroundings and the process which is mentioned above are completely ignored in most of the cases before taking any project in Bangladesh. This is happened due to some real and practical constraints of economic, social and political (National and International) situation. But Bangladesh has to come out from these hurdles for the development of indigenous Technology and the adaptation of Technology by our Engineers, Scientists and Technologist. To attain the goals of becoming middle income country of Bangladesh by 2021, the Technological capability must have to be attained and it is possible to adopt the technology from developing country by proper Technology Assessment. Otherwise present uncontrolled technological development will be suicidal for Bangladesh. If the present uncontrolled situation prevails, gap between the goals (2021) will be higher and higher which leads to Bangladesh as a big Technology buyer but no Technology adaptation and diffusion.
References:
1) Kamal Uddin,M, Management of Technology, IAT,BUET.
2) Web Site.

WORLD TELECOMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SOCIETY DAY 2014