Eng. Sheikh Reaz Ahmed*
To become a middle income country by 2021, the Government of Bangladesh declared the ‘Vision 2021’ and is committed to ensure universal Telecommunications and ICT services to the door-steps of it’s citizens.
Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication (MoPT) plays an active and potential role in realizing the dream of “Digital Bangladesh” through achieving “vision-2021”. Connectivity brings everything within the grip of a citizen and makes the life easy, accessible and affordable. The people of rural and urban irrespective of rich and poor have got the same opportunity to enjoy such facility from near and far end. Home is popularly being used now-a-days as an office in many countries. Most of the work is easily being accomplished from any corner of the universe. Connectivity squeezed our tension and curiosity through prompt and effective way of knowing & transporting any desire things. This article intends to give a snapshot of the comprehensive activities of the ministry of Posts & Telecommunications (MoPT) which is primarily responsible for providing postal and Telecommunication services to the mass people of the country. MoPT is responsible to create and maintain a harmonic environment through policy formulation and enforce them in the field of Posts and Telecommunications. The role of the ministry is to create a level playing field for all market players including the private sectors in telecom and postal services. During the past four and half years the ministry proved itself as a unit of the Governance in providing the most essential citizen services, the highest revenue earning sector, a key enabler of the economic development and also the highest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attracting sector. Last year about 60% of total FDI investment in the country was in the telecom sector, which is a remarkable success of MoPT. Formulation of Policy, Rules and Regulations for the Posts and Telecommunications sector are the basic tasks of the ministry. The ministry has also taken an initiative to formulate an effective telecom policy with the help of ITU, stakeholders and Policy think tanks. The MoPT formulated the Broadband Policy-2009 and International Long Distance Telecommunication Service (ILDTS) Policy -2010. The MoPT is processing a number of rules and regulations to make the telecom market more dynamic, competitive and people oriented. Some of them are Significant Market Power (SMP) Regulations, Social Obligation Fund (SOF) Rules and Telecommunication Licensing Regulations. The licensing of telecommunication services and tariff approvals are now the responsibility of the MoPT. With the proposal of BTRC, the ministry finalized and approved the regulatory and licensing guidelines for renewal of existing Mobile Operator’s, International Terrestrial Cable (ITC), International Gateway (IGW), Interconnection Exchange (ICX), International Internet Gateway (IIG), National Internet Exchange (NIX) and VoIP Service Provider (VSP). At present most of the critical decisions are being made in consultation with the stakeholders and citizen representatives.The MoPT achieves its goal and enforces Government’s policy through the accumulated performance of its 7organizations : one is regulatory commission-
- Bangladesh Telecommunication RegulatoryCommission (BTRC), one is its attached department
- Bangladesh Post Office (BPO), 5 other government owned public limited companies such as
- Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd. (BTCL),
- Bangladesh Submarine Cable Co. Ltd (BSCCL),
- Bangladesh Cable Shilpa Ltd.(BCS),
- Telephone Shilpa Sangstha (TSS) and
- Teletalk Bangladesh Ltd. (Teletalk).
- 8 PSTN active operators,
- 6 PLMN operators
- 28 IGW Licenses,
- 27 ICX Licenses,
- 36 IIG Licenses and
- 841 VSP Licenses
MoPT is keeping its presence through active participation at various programs of ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and UPU (Universal Postal Union) and performs various types of telecom and postal activities in compliance with the constitutions and decisions of ITU and UPU. Bangladesh has elected as one of the council member of ITU in 2009 for the period of 2010-2014 which reflects the level of international collaboration of the country in the field of Telecommunication. Besides ITU and UPU, the MoPT maintains close contact with GSM Association (GSMA), Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT), Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO), Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Asian Pacific Postal Union (APPU) and various global, regional and sub-regional telecom and Postal forums and groups.
Through proper intervention of our present minister, overseas Incoming call minutes have drastically increased at 40 million minutes per day. Now the total PSTN subscriber is 10,28,190; the penetration rate is 0.67%, the total mobile subscriber is 9,98,70,627; the penetration rate is 65.48% and the total Internet subscriber is 3,18,01,345; the penetration rate is 20.85%. The government has taken initiatives to reduce
the tariff rates of voice calls and internet usage. As a part of the initiative of cheaper internet connectivity, the price for bandwidth has been reduced substantially. At present the internet bandwidth is as low as maximum BDT 8,000 per Mbps while in 2009 it was BDT 27,000. It is proposed to reduce this rate at BDT 4,800 per Mbps. Though ITU has yet not been fixed the speed of bandwidth and different country has defined its bandwidth at different speed like 128 Kbps,256 Kbps and 512 Kbps but MoPT has taken a wonderful decision to define its broadband at a speed of 1 Mbps.
BANGABANDHU SATELLITE : Considering the necessity, market demand as well as keeping the prestige of the country in the telecom world, MoPT realized to launch its own Satellite and took initiative through BTRC. BTRC is approaching with a consulting based project “Preparatory Functions and Supervision in Launching a Communication
and Broadcasting Satellite” and the consultant for launching the satellite has already been appointed. Bangladesh has filed its claim to ITU for its own orbit. At the same time work is going on to rent out other’s
orbit in case any complexity arise for own orbit. Floating of tender, funding of about Tk.3000 crore, selection of orbital slot will be finalized very soon. It will be the first satellite of the country having 40 transponders (16 of C band and 24 of Ku band). Hopefully Bangladesh will have its own satellite named as “BANGABANDHU SATELLITE ” by 2015.
of the country, down to upazila (thana) and growth centre level. Most of them can also use dial-up internet service. BTCL has the largest telecom infrastructure comprising of TDM and IP networks etc. It has also ISP operation which is the largest in the country. ADSL Broadband internet service is available now with the capacity of 48 thousands. BTCL has taken several projects to develop the telecom infrastructure throughout the country. It is going to install fiber optic network upto the root level of the country i.e union level to give last mile solution to it’s subscriber. Work is also going on under BTCL for commissioning 2,39,000 lines NGN based integrated telephone system through which triple play i.e. Voice, Video and Data connectivity can be provided to the subscribers through a single line. Bangladesh was the first South Asian country to adopt cellular mobile having AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) technology in the period 1989-1993 through it’s private operator CityCell. Due to limited network coverage and exorbitant high subscription charge and call rate number of subscriber was very limited. In 1996, three more GSM licenses were awarded aimed at breaking the monopoly and making the cellular technology affordable to the general masses. At present, total number of mobile operator is 6(Six) including the Government owned operator “Teletalk”. The mobile communications sector in Bangladesh is one of the fastest growingindustry which boost up the economic and social development in the country. The mobile phone sector has also ensured the availability of data enabling services across the country.
Mobile internet and voice facility has helped to bridge the digital divide between people with access to information and services. The contributions of Grameen Phone Ltd. (GP), Banglalink, Robi and Airtel are prudently appreciable in booming the mobile industry of the country.
Teletalk Bangladesh Limited (TBL) : Besides the private operators,Teletalk Bangladesh Limited (TBL) which is a public limited company under MoPT is playing a vital role to Teletalk is continuing its network expansion to reach more corners of the country. It had already established its network in 64 Districts, 420 Upazilas including 25 critical Upazilas of the hill tracts and most of the highways. Teletalk is solely going to establish mobile connectivity at Sundarban and surroundings deep sea in the southern part of the country. Last year the government allowed Teletalk to launch 3G Services for commercial testing. 3G enabled subscribers availing the facilities of mobile TV, high speed internet, video conferencing and lot of value added services. To liberalize and encourage more operators in providing 3G services the licensing guideline has already
provide universal services and market stabilization .
been approved by MoPT. Hopefully within this year 3G service will be available and affordable throughout the country with the inception of other operators activities. The licensed ISP organizations having categories as "Nationwide ISP License" and "Zonal ISP License” are providing Internet services throughout the country. In order to spread the internet facilities into the rural areas of Bangladesh, MoPT has been working hand in hand with the ISP organizations. To reduce the infrastructure cost of the ISPs several initiatives including transmission cost has been reducted. Internet Protocol Telephony Service Provider (IPTSP) Licenses have been awarded to a number of ISP licensees. For the convenience of the ISP licensees the ministry has approved the licensing guideline for National Internet Exchange (NIX) which is the neutral meeting point of the ISPs. NIX is required to route domestic internet traffic which will save the mis-use of international bandwidth and foreign currency.
The metropolitan cities and district towns once were cluttered with hazardous overhead optical fiber/cables and the optical fiber/wired networks have been laid independently by the multiple ANS operators
caused huge wastage of the national resources. Therefore, Licenses had given for Nationwide Optical Fiber Telecommunication Transmission Network to Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) and Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) licenses to Fiber@Home and Sumit
Communications to build and maintain a common telecom transmission network across the country. Between the two categories, PGCB is providing transmission network by installing Optical Ground Wire (OPGW) on high voltage transmission line whereas the NTTN licensees are building a nationwide underground optical fiber transmission backbone and create a platform for National Information Highway.
The number of such operators may increase in near future as the ministry is amending the licensing guideline with the recommendation of BTRC.
Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) : Under MoPT, Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) is an International Submarine Cable Operator of the country. BSCCL provides the Long-haul communication between Bangladesh and the rest of the world. BSCCL is a party onbehalf of Bangladesh in the SEA-ME-WE-4 ( South East Asia-Middle East-Western WORLD TELECOMMUNICATION ANDINFORMATION SOCIETY DAY 2013 23 Europe-4) submarine cable and represents the Nation in the SMW-4 international cable consortium. BSCCL has become a member of the newly formed SMW-5 Consortium and the said Submarine Cable will provide more capacity i.e 700 Gbps and acts as redundant. BSCCL will soon start operations as IIG (International Internet Gateway) which will help the people to get broadband Internet with cheaper rate and better quality of service. It has a Co-location Center at it’s landing station “Cox’s bazar”. The people of Bangladesh have been connected to the "Information Super Highway" by using this high capacity fiber optic submarine cable bandwidth. BSCCL is playing a major role with its present capacity of 200 Gbps, though the usage is only 30Gbps. India, Nepal, Mynmar, Bhutan is continuously keeping contact with us for renting our bandwidth capacity.
Telephone Shilpa Sangstha Ltd. (TSS) is a state owned public limited company was established in 1967 as a private limited company to manufacture analog type EMD telephone exchange equipments and
different types of telephone sets. But for demand of the age, TSS management took initiatives to diversify its activities and established four assembling/manufacturing units as
1. Manufacturing/Assembling plant for PSTN land telephone sets.
2. Manufacturing Plant for Mobile Phone Battery.
3. Manufacturing Plant for Mobile Phone Battery Charger and
4. Assembling Plant for Digital Electric Meter.
To cherish the dream of "Digita Bangladesh". It is assembling/manufacturing Laptop/ Notebook and the people can buy Laptop/Notebook at a competitive lower price. It also has a proposal for manufacturing Maintenance Free VLRA Battery and other types of Battery which can be used to run mobile equipments. TSS is a well-known and long reputed supplier/assembler of Digital PABX of different brands. It also supplied and installed the Optical Network Unit (ONU) and related equipment at different exchanges of BTCL. Bangladesh Cable Shilpa Limited (BCSL) under MoPT was established with joint collaboration of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh (through the Bangladesh Telegraph & Telephone Board, now BTCL) and M/s Siemens Aktiengesellschaft of West Germany in 1967 with a target of manufacturing Telecommunication cables & drop wires in the country. BCSL can produce different types of cables (telephone copper cables & drop wires and optical fiber cables). BCSL can maintain the quality of products as per Customer demand & satisfaction with many high speed and sophisticated computerized machineries including cable testing equipments. The only Optical Fiber Cable Manufacturing Plant in BCS is producing various types of optical fiber cables like aerial, duct, buried & from 2 fibers to 216 fibers (Armoured and Non-Armoured), maintaining high and world standard quality with imported high quality raw materials. Using its huge infra-structure, BCS is now thinking to produce power cable of various grade to meet the demand of the country. Bangladesh is going to launch its own satellite named as “Bangabandhu Satellite” in the orbit like other modern and enlightened nations. Bangladesh being a sovereign country having sustainable development needs its own satellite in order to reduce its dependency on other nations. Bangladesh of its unique geographical location often faced to natural disaster risk and its telecommunication system has always been suffering from interruption. Satellite network can play an important role in ensuring uninterrupted telecommunication services in the country. The satellite network has a significant advantages over terrestrial network in ensuring high-level of communication redundancy. on the other hand with its own satellite network, Bangladesh can save a significant amount of foreign currency paid as the transponder rental charge. Bangladesh had a long cherished dream of having its own communication satellite which will ensure improved connectivity with rest of the world.
Bangladesh Post Office: Another role is being played by the Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications in catering and fulfilling the postal needs of the people of the country through its attached department “Bangladesh Post Office (BPO)”. BPO is the premier national postal communication service provider dedicated to provide wide range of postal products and public services to a large population through its 9,886 post offices. BPO is committed to provide a speedy, reliable and regular services to the people of all walks of life at a reasonable cost. Post e-center at each of the 8500 rural post offices of the country bridge digital divide between the rural and urban people of the country by enabling them to have access to modern ICT based technologies. Electronic Money Transfer Service (EMTS) was commercially launched at 2750 post offices throughout the country including all district and Upazila Post Offices. Guaranteed Express Post (GEP) service is familiar at all Upazilla.BPO is automating the activities of 134 offices including 71 Head Post Offices and 13 Main and Sorting Offices through a project “Process Automaton of Postal Department”. Postal Cash Card service is initiated in all posts offices of the country which will minimize the risk of carrying cash in hand and will enable customers to reap the benefit of encashment and remittance in post office counters and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) booths on the other hand. This card may also act equally as Debit Card, Credit Card and Plastic money. The introduction of IPS light (International Postal System Software),Global Monitoring System (GMS) & nternet based on line Enquiry System (IBIS) for tracking and tracing the posted materials movement have built the confidence to the people. The special SIM Cards having both Voice Call and Employees Reimbursement ystem (ERS) facilities have been distributed among 8217 Extra Departmental Agents of Bangladesh Post Office to enabling staffs of the department to increase their income significantly. The vision of theGovernment is to establish a democratic, poverty free, knowledge based society by using Telecommunications and ICTs. The government is keen to implement e-education, e-health, e-commerce, e-agriculture etc. by establishing strong Telecommunications infrastructures. Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications along with its associated organizations including private operators are trying extremly to make ICTs and elecommunications services affordable and available to every citizen. The MoPT is dedicated to serve the nation by providing universal access to the Telecommunications facilities.