Category Archives: Bangladesh Telecommunication

Bangladesh Telecommunication

Make WiMax accessible: Qubee CEO Jerry Mobs shares his experience

Make WiMax accessible

Qubee CEO Jerry Mobs shares his experience

Nafid Imran Ahmed

Qubee, the first WiMax service provider in the country, is in operations for nine months now, and it is already making noise in the market.

Recently Jerry Mobs, the company’s chief executive, spoke to The Daily Star and shared his experiences.

According to Jerry, one of the main issues that affect the whole industry is the extremely high price of the International Internet Gateway (IIG) connectivity, which is about two and a half times regional averages, such as Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.

“If you compare Bangladesh to those nations, you will find that it’s very expensive. And that cost is bourne not only by Qubee, but also by others, such as Banglalion, GP and all other ISP’s in the market. This is preventing the growth of services in Bangladesh.”

“You may be able to get the customer but to connect them to the rest of the world, that’s when it gets really expensive and 98 percent of my traffic goes out of the country — that has to go through the international gateway.”

The price for 1Mbps in equivalent South Asian countries is around about $70 — it is currently Tk 18,000 for the same in Bangladesh, he said.

That is the price all the internet service providers (ISP) pay, not just Qubee, which is the single biggest cost element in retarding their growth, the CEO said.

Jerry mentioned that they brought up the topic with Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and they responded positively. BTRC knows the issues and will have to look at all the stakeholders, as there are government revenues involved, he added.

“I have a feeling they understand the situation and are looking to achieve a sensible way forward that benefits all parties. It has to be a win-win deal. I have faith in the regulator that they will do a good job and everyone will be happy.”

Jerry believes the market potential is huge and growing all the time. “Cellular operators have almost 5 million people using the internet on the small screen and there are half a million to three quarters of a million connected at home. We are still looking to cover that market.”

“We’ve gone through our launch phase. Now we cover most main areas of Dhaka. We’ve got 8,500 subscribers on our network today and we are the fastest growing ISP, in terms of bandwidth — we know that talking to Mango TeleServices and BTCL and probably number two or three in terms of single largest bandwidth customer,” he informed.

Since inception, Qubee learnt a lot about the market and optimised a lot of the network; and they have about 50 base transceiver stations (BTS) today. By mid June, they plan to increase that number to 120 throughout Dhaka.

“We have a couple of new projects coming up in June-July. There is a lot of work going on, primarily based around mobile devices, allowing people to move around the network and access a WiMax 4G network throughout Dhaka,” said Jerry.

On built-in WiMax modem enabled laptops, Jerry said the industry is working on it at the moment. The main focus now is to provide WiMax to as many potential users as possible, whether on a desktop or laptop, the CEO added.

“Our primary objective in the short term is to cover everybody and give them a chance to use high speed reliable internet services. We want to offer the ability to move around with dongle type devices, which is what our network will be able to support in June. I think around Q3 this year, embedded devices, such as bundled laptops with in-built WiMax devices, should start to happen,” he said.

When asked if the company is on target, Jerry said they are a bit behind at the moment. “We are adding about 100 customers a day. Around about 30 percent of those are referrals from people who’ve used our services for a month or two.”

“I think we delivered in general on our brand promise, which is a good internet experience, a service that never sleeps and speed in happiness.”

On existing ISPs with wireless spectrums, he said: “When we invested in Bangladesh, we knew the process was pretty clear and that existing ISPs that already have the rights to use their spectrum, would continue. We don’t see that as a big issue.”

“If people start to pull their spectrum to create larger groups of spectrum, and if they could offer similar services that creates another competitor with a large chunk of spectrum without benefits to the government by not having to pay a licence fee, to me that is wrong and we would object.”

“I don’t think that is going to happen. The regulator here has operated within the rules and the rules of the auction are pretty clear.”

On rolling out 3G, Jerry said he sees it as a complementary service, and doesn’t see his company competing with the cellular operators.

“WiMax is a 4G technology, so having experienced 3G around the world and WiMax, I have seen both sides of the performance. And WiMax is better than 3G.”

3G is a great complementary technology, which will help grow the market and internet penetration, he said. But people still need to have much higher bandwidth for their desktops and laptops, and WiMax can deliver that, he added.

“3G is great for small screens but when you plug it in on a desktop and want to play massive multiplayer online games or upload photographs, WiMax is a better technology.”

 

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Mobiles reign in households

Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=140306, Published on 28 May, 2010.

Mobile phone has become a major communication device at family levels, covering around half of all families in Bangladesh, says a study of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. Mobile phone is seemed as a great tool of building Digital Bangladesh.

A Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) survey also shows that mobile usage at household levels mainly began rising in 2005. It also means that a stiff price war that began in the same year mainly contributed to dispersing the technology.

According to the survey, 48.3 percent households owned mobile phones at the end of 2009, whereas there were 2.2 percent land phone users at household levels. In 2005, only 10 percent households were covered by mobile phones, says the survey. According to the last census by BBS held in 2001, the total number of households was 25.4 million.

The Welfare Monitoring Survey (WMS) covered as many as 14,000 households for the country as a whole as sample size. Under the preview, there were 8,400 rural households and 5,600 urban households.

The mobile technology was introduced in Bangladesh in 1993. The device gradually became popular among users when the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) was launched in 1997. However, the high price of the technology kept it away from the general public until 2005.

Industry insiders said the revolutionary entry of the mobile technology at household levels mainly happened because of the countrywide coverage and availability of the technology.

“I came here to buy a mobile connection because it is near my house,” said Mahbuba Haque, who was standing at a small shop near Maghbazar intersection. Mahbuba said she bought the mobile for home use. She said she is more comfortable in using her mobile to communicate with people. The different value added services also attract her to use mobiles. Citing an example, she said, through a mobile conference call, I can talk to several relatives at a time, which is truly a nice way of social communication.

Voice communication through mobile telephony started with CDMA (code division multiple access), which was introduced by Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd — the owning company of Citycell — in 1993.

The expensive communication device started to become handy after the introduction of GSM by Grameenphone and Robi (then known as AKTEL) in 1997.

Banglalink and state-run TeleTalk launched their services in 2005 and Warid came in 2007.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) data shows that the number of customers under the mobile networks reached 52.43 million at the end of 2009. As of April 2010, the number of mobile users was 56.43 million, according to BTRC.

On the other hand, only 1.03 million customers were tagged with landline telecom services at the end of April 2010.

Oddvar Hesjedal, chief executive officer of Grameenphone, said: “The mobile communication will be a major driver to achieve a Digital Bangladesh. It took 15 years to reach the first 50 million customers; I feel that in the right business environment, the next 50 million subscribers will happen much faster,” he said.

However, a real hurdle to such development is the SIM tax, which makes new connections more expensive, he said.

“The mobile technology has brought about a revolution here,” said Zakiul Islam, president of Association of Mobile Telecommunications Operators of Bangladesh.

“If some tax structures are eased, the market will grow further,” he said.

 

Bangladesh wins ITU Council membership

Source: Bdnews24.com

Bangladesh has achieved membership of the International Telecommunication Union’s council at its Plenipotentiary Conference in Mexico, said members of the Bangladeshi delegation.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency, regulates information and communication technology issues.

“Bangladesh has won the membership getting 123 votes out of the total 161,” Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) chief Zia Ahmed told bdnews24.com on Tuesday over phone from Mexico.

Bangladesh has been made sixth out of the 13 memberships reserved for the Asia and Australasia region, said the BTRC chairman.

The ITU Council comprises 48 members, elected from five regions namely, the Americas, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Northern Asia, Africa and Asia & Australasia.

The Bangladesh delegation includes post and telecommunication minister Raziuddin Ahmed Raju, chairman of the parliamentary committee on the ministry Hasanul Huq Inu, secretary Sunil Kanti Bose, the BTRC chairman and members of the parliamentary committee.

Talking to bdnews24.com, the minister said it was a great victory for Bangladesh. “I dedicate this victory to our great leader prime minister Sheikh Hasina.”

Referring to recent media reports on the large Bangladeshi delegation sent to the ITU conference in Mexico, the minister said delegations of South Korea and Japan consist over 50 members. “Romania and Nigeria have even brought their cultural teams.”

Local media reported Tk 900,000 has been spent alone as plane fares for each member travelling in business class while the cost is Tk 150,000 for each in the economy class.

Touching on Bangladesh’s benefit of being a member of the ITU Council, Inu said Bangladesh will be able to play a key role as representative of the developing nations.

“Bangladesh will be an important stakeholder in formulating the strategies, financial issues, radio spectrum communications and regulations for the next 4 years.”

The lawmaker echoed the minister on the issue of the local media reports.

ITU elections are held every four year where the secretary general, deputy secretary general, directors of the radio communication bureau, telecommunication standardisation bureau, telecommunication development bureau, members of Radio Regulations board along with member countries for the ITU council are elected.

Hamadoun I Touré has been re-elected as the ITU president.

Mali national Touré visited Bangladesh last February, when he attended the launching ceremony of a government initiative, ‘Digital Bangladesh: Plan of Connecting People’ which the prime minister attended as chief guest.

ITU is the eldest organisation in the UN family still in existence. It was founded as the International Telegraph Union in 1865 before coming under the UN system.

Since its formation, the ITU has coordinated the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, established worldwide standards and addressed the global challenges of the time, such as strengthening cyber-security.

The organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, includes 191 member countries.

Cellphones in South Asia : Saving lives and improving livelihoods

Collected from  a Message post in the yahoo group Community Radio Bangladesh of

AHM. Bazlur Rahman-S21BRChief Executive OfficerBangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)[NGO in Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council]
&
Head, Community Radio AcademyHouse: 13/1, Road: 2, Shaymoli, Dhaka-1207Post Box: 5095, Dhaka 1205 BangladeshPhone: 88-02-9130750, 88-02-9138501Cell: 01711881647 Fax: 88-02-9138501-105E-mail: ceo@bnnrc.net http://www.bnnrc.net

Introduction

We live in a divided world where far too many people live in abject poverty. To
help these people get out of poverty is good for the world as a whole, for great
disparities in wealth will lead to violence and terrorism and no one can live in
peace and harmony. None of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can be
achieved if we fail to address the problem of poverty and ensure livelihood
security for the majority of the poor.

A vast majority of the poor live in the rural areas of developing countries and
are dependent on agriculture or fishing for a living. They need information
directly relevant to their livelihoods. Agriculture-related information is often
one of the most immediate needs, since small-scale agriculture is very important
to household incomes in rural areas. Information on current crop prices,
fertiliser and pesticide costs, and the availability of improved seeds and
low-cost improvements in farm technology can help farmers buy farm inputs and equipment of good quality at the right price, or help them successfully obtain credit.[1] Information on government entitlements and training programmes, opportunities for developing new products, and markets for environmental goods[2] is also useful. Without such information, poor families find it hard to take advantage of new opportunities for generating income and increasing their assets.

Many asset-less poor migrate to cities far and near and are constantly on the
lookout for opportunities to work in construction sites, ports, factories and
wherever they can be employed. They are often exploited and work in conditions far from satisfactory. They will be happy to have information on where work is available and wages are good.

This report looks at a few examples of how access to information helps improve
the lives of people and how new technologies are being used in getting
information to those who need it.

Small catch but big impact
About twelve years ago scientists at the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation
(MSSRF) started working with fishing communities in coastal villages of southern India. The major thrust of the project, funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), was to look at how emerging information and communications technologies (ICTs) could be used to make a difference to these people’s lives. But the project managers took a holistic perspective and put
people and their needs before technology: they went beyond merely providing
online access to information through their internet-enabled Village Knowledge
Centres (VKCs). They were concerned about fisherpeople losing their catches,
nets, boats and even their lives on days when the sea turned rough. Lives could
be saved if only one could have advance knowledge of weather conditions. After
some investigation, the MSSRF researchers found that United States (US) Navy
satellites were collecting weather and wave height information for the Bay of
Bengal, and the Navy website released forecasts based on these data twice daily.
The VKC volunteers started downloading this information and made it available to the fisherpeople in their local language through notice boards and a public
address system. Ever since this service commenced not a single death in mid-sea
has been reported from these villages.

The need for innovation
Suddenly, the US Navy stopped providing this information and something needed to be done. MSSRF joined hands with Qualcomm, Tata Teleservices and Astute Systems Technology,[3] and these companies came up with an innovative mobile application called Fisher Friend based on third-generation code division multiple access (3G CDMA) technology. With Fisher Friend, the VKCs provide fisherpeople with real-time information on things like fish prices in different markets, weather, wave heights, satellite scan data on the location of fish shoals, and news flashes while they are at mid-sea. Access to these, as well as other information such as relevant government schemes, has improved market transparency and the earnings of smaller fisherpeople. Qualcomm is working on incorporating global positioning system (GPS) capability in the phones, so their exact location can be tracked. This would make rescue operations much easier.

Timely access to relevant information can not only improve the standards of
living of a community, but also save lives.

Real evidence, not just anecdotal
Much of the evidence of the benefits of access to information and the use of
technology to facilitate access so far has been anecdotal. In a recent paper in
the Quarterly Journal of Economics Robert Jensen of Harvard University has
quantified the benefits.[4] He showed that the adoption of mobile phones by
fisherpeople and wholesalers in Kerala in southern India had led to a dramatic
reduction in price dispersion (the mean coefficient of variation of price across
markets over a stretch of 150 kilometres came down from 60%-70% to less than
15%); the complete elimination of waste (from 5%-8% to virtually nil); and near
perfect adherence to the Law of One Price.[5] In addition, fisherpeople’s
profits increased by 8%, while consumer prices declined by 4% (directly driving
a 20 rupee/person/month consumer surplus, the equivalent of a 2% increase in per capita GDP from this one market alone). Sardine consumption increased by 6%. The advent of mobile phones also led to a 6% increase in school enrolment and a 5% increase in the probability of using healthcare when sick. All this with no government programmes, and no new funding requirements.[6]

Several other initiatives involve mobile technology. Nokia recently launched
Life Tools in India, a fee-based service, with a view to impacting on the daily
lives of people, especially farmers. Life Tools offers timely online access to
information that will be of great relevance to farmers, students and the lay
public. Nokia has partnered with the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing
Board (to gather commodity prices from 291 markets), Reuters Market Light,
Syngenta and Skymet,[7] among others. It has plans to introduce Life Tools to
other developing countries before the end of the year.

Online access to information through mobile phones and through telecentres has
also helped shop owners, traders and the self-employed increase their earnings
in many countries. The mobile phone is becoming the primary connectivity tool.
With significant computing power, it will soon be the primary internet
connection, providing information in a portable, well-connected form at a
relatively low price, pushing aside the personal computer.

Conclusion
Today the “bottom” three-quarters of the world’s population accounts for at
least 50% of all people with internet access, says a Pew report.[8] As Turner
pointed out in 2007, investment in telecom, which facilitates easy access to
information, is more productive than investment in other kinds of
infrastructure.[9] The impact is particularly noticeable in developing nations.
ICTs are not a technical solution on their own but are enablers in a process of
local prioritisation and problem solving. This report has highlighted
initiatives that use mobile technology. But mobile solutions are obviously not
the only useful ones. For instance, LabourNet in Bangalore connects employers
and casual labourers through an online database that is updated constantly.[10]
Thanks to LabourNet, workers, especially at construction sites, get decent pay,
training, insurance and safety measures at the workplace. However, the
information supplied is more at the administrative level than the grassroots
level.

The success lies in embedding ICTs in a holistic approach encompassing a diverse range of development initiatives. The trick is not to emphasise technology but to put people and their needs before technology. Sustainable livelihood approaches need to be people-centred, recognising the capital assets of the poor and the influence of policies and institutions on their livelihood
strategies.[11]

Also, the mere ability to access information cannot take one far. What is
important is what one can do with that information. Often one would need to have additional skills and capital to take advantage of the information. That is why efforts to provide improved access to information should go hand in hand with efforts to enhance skills through training programmes, and efforts to enhance access to finance through microfinance and the formation of self-help groups.

Rural livelihoods involve a wide range of strategies both within and outside the
farming sector. Often farming communities need to augment their income through non-farming enterprises, and here the women and youth could play a role in enhancing household income.

It will be good to remember that a large number of ICT-enabled development pilot projects have remained just that – pilot projects that did not scale up.

Bangladesh Govt unveils ambitious telecom plans

All UPs to come under fibre- optic network, upazilas getting Community e-Centre, hospitals, schools to get computer, web cam, Internet service

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Tuesday unveiled an ambitious digitization plan for building Bangladesh as a country fully furnished with modern telecommunications systems for faster delivery of services to the people ensuring good governance from grassroots to central levels.

Under the mega-scheme ‘Digital Bangladesh: Plan of Connecting People’, all Union Parishads will be linked with fibre-optic network, upazilas will get Community e-Centre, and hospitals and schools get computer, web-cam and internet.

Already, 100 Union Parishads have been selected for giving fibre-optic cable connections while another 1,000 unions will be bound with the cross-country cable network within the next one year.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of Concept Paper on ‘Digital Bangladesh: Plan of Connecting People’ at a city hotel, the Prime Minister urged the country’s scientists, technological experts and engineers to turn Bangladesh self-sufficient in using technologies rather than depending on foreign countries and agencies.

Pushing a button of a computer, the Prime Minister opened the technical part of the agenda, aimed at breaking the digital divide between the advanced world and a developing country like Bangladesh.

To introduce modern and faster communications network in the sleepy rural Bangladesh, she said, the government will bring offices of all Union Parishads under fibre-optic network as part of the recipe for boarding the entire country on the information superhighway.

The Prime Minister further disclosed that Community e-Center will be set up in all upazilas of the country. Already, five upazilas have got Community e-Center and 128 upazilas computer labs.

She said in line with government’s commitment to provide quality health services to the mass people, the government will give computers, web- cam and internet facilities to all hospitals of the country.

Besides, e-center for Rural Community will be set up at 8,500 post offices of the country to ensure proper management of the postal services.

Moreover, the government is making arrangement to provide videoconferencing facility between Prime Minister’s office and the cabinet division, deputy commissioners of 64 districts and 7 divisional headquarters.

The government is also constructing necessary infrastructures to set up Hi- tech Park in Gazipur and install country’s own satellite to strengthen local telecommunications system, she informed her audience.

The Prime Minister said it is not possible to implement all the development programmes by the government alone and urged all concerned to help the government turn Bangladesh into a digital, modern country by 2021.

“I strongly hope joint ventures under public-private partnerships will fulfill our dream of building a digital Bangladesh,” she said.

Hasina mentioned that the ICT Policy 2009 has already been approved and the ICT ACT 2009 formulated, which will expedite the country’s ICT industry’s growth and joint efforts of public and private sectors.

The Prime Minister said some 1,500 laptops have been distributed to various educational institutions while computer labs equipped with internet facilities will be set up gradually at every educational institution.

“Our children are working successfully in various international institutions. If they are given necessary facilities, they will make tremendous contribution to the effort for turning Bangladesh into a technology-based modern country,” she told the function.

Hasina further said the government is going to implement national service programme in line with its election pledge to give job to one educated member of every family in the country.

She said digital Bangladesh means mobilizing everyone of the country in the national development process and for this local government has to be strengthened.

Hasina said upazila elections have already been held and elections in city corporations, pourasobhas and union parishads will be held soon.

Posts and Telecommunications Ministry arranged the function with its Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju in the chair. International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Toure addressed the function as special guest.

Prime Minister’s son, eminent computer scientist Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed, presented the theme paper of the function presenting and suggesting the priority tasks to turn Bangladesh into a true digital country.

Posts and Telecommunications Secretary Sunil Kanti Bose and BTRC Chairman Maj. Gen. (rtd) Zia Ahmed also addressed the function. A video documentary was also presented at the function sowing the dream Bangladesh of 2021-the year when the golden jubilee of national independence will be celebrated.

Courtesy of Bangladeshinfo.com: http://www.bangladeshinfo.com/business/headline_news.php?nid=21196