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Seminar on Nationwide Backbone Connectivity: Policy Issues
31 Aug 2013

Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) and The Asia Foundation jointly organized a seminar on “Nationwide backbone connectivity: policy issues” at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel on 31st August 2013. Discussants of the seminar, including policymakers, regulators, operators and academics, stressed the need for finding ways to expand internet services.


The telecom sector will see robust infrastructure development if the country can make best use of its current resources, BTRC Chairman Sunil Kanti Bose said yesterday.

The government will use a scheme known as the universal service fund—formed with 1 percent of mobile operators’ revenues—to finance telecom infrastructure projects launched under public private partnership (PPP), he said.

The network infrastructure of the state-owned Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) can be used for projects under public private partnership, said Bose, chief of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

The government will issue new licences to the operators of National Telecom Transmission Network (NTTN) responsible for providing transmission services, so people can get quality services from voice or data operators, he said.

The transmission lines of more than 18,000 kilometres of private and public operators cover all districts, most upazilas and some union parishads, said M Rokonuzzaman, a professor at the Independent University of Bangladesh. He raised questions on why BTCL failed to support the telecom industry with its largest network of 5,000 kilometres.

BTCL may not have the efficiency to manage the network, but its resources can be used by taking different measures, said Abubakar Siddique, telecom secretary.

“We are ready to provide you (the operators) all the support. We as public organisations have developed our network better than the private organisations,” said Siddique, who is also the chairman of BTCL.

The PPP concept has not yet been utilised properly in the country, said Jamilur Reza Choudhury, vice-chancellor of University of Asia Pacific and the moderator of the seminar.

“We do not have business opportunities in other areas except Dhaka and Chittagong. We are now moving to other areas also,” said Arif Al Islam, managing director of Summit Communications, an NTTN operator.

To find new business opportunities, the NTTN operators should go to the 189 upazilas where there is no fibre connectivity, said Colonel Zakir Hossain, director general of BTRC.

People in rural areas need broadband services more than the ones in urban areas, so they can enjoy different government services, he said.

“We want to connect all the schools, colleges and hospitals with broadband,” said Anir Chowdhury, adviser of the Access to Information project of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Grameenphone has wireless network in 3,545 union parishads and fibre network in 198 upazilas, said Munir Hasan, director for corporate affairs of the mobile operator.

At the same seminar, AKM Fahim Mashroor, president of BASIS, presented another keynote paper on mobile apps and policy issues.

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