3G mobile network in 3 months

Bangladesh will launch third-generation (3G) mobile phone network in three months, Telecommunication Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju said yesterday. Teletalk, the state-owned mobile operator, will roll out the 3G services, followed by private operators. “This 3G networks will be developed with Chinese assistance and users will get services at prices lower than India,” Raju told reporters at a press conference at the Press Information Department marking Bangladesh's winning the membership of International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Telephone Shilpa Sangstha (TSS), the state-run telephone equipment manufacturer, is working on producing low-cost laptops in a span of six months. The prices of laptops would range from Tk 10,000 to Tk 15,000, the minister said.

Recently, Bangladesh won the prestigious ITU membership by bagging 123 votes out of 161 and acquired the sixth position, beating giants like Australia, India and Thailand.

Talking to journalists, the minister dwelt on a wide range of issues such as digitalisation, 3G network, e-service, telephone and internet density, VoIP and communication satellite.

3G networks enable faster data transmission and advanced services. It supports a diverse range of applications. Download speed is much higher in 3G networks. Subscribers of 3G services could easily enjoy TV programme. But a user has to have the right instrument--high-end mobiles and smart phones--to get access to 3G services.

It is a new application services and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is now formulating a guideline on 3G services, the minister said at the programme.

“BTRC will issue the 3G licence on demand, but Teletalk will get the priority,” said Raju.

The minister said the government is now in talks with the Chinese government to borrow $211 million to develop the capacity of Teletalk.

Regarding the production of low-cost laptops, the minister said it was supposed to be marketed soon but due to legal and official difficulties it was not possible. He also pointed out that the state-run telephone set maker had been shut for long nine years. “We hope we will be able to do it in six months,” he said.

TSS will also produce telephone sets and the prices will range from Tk 1,000 to Tk 3,000.

The minister also said 8,500 post offices across the country will be turned into e-centres.

In reply to a query, the minister said the government is talking to experts of different countries on the launch of a communication satellite.

Telecom Secretary Sunil Kanti Bose said licences for VoIP (voice over internet protocol) would be given soon.

Hasanul Huq Inu, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on telecommunication ministry, said winning the ITU membership is the biggest achievement since independence.

“Bangladesh will get lot of technical assistance from the ITU,” Inu added.

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