Bangladesh to create guidelines for LEO satellite operators

Bangladesh to create guidelines for LEO satellite operators

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) reportedly plans to hash out guidelines for LEO and MEO broadband satellite services that could enable SpaceX’s Starlink and similar services to operate in the country.

According to a report in the Daily Star on Sunday, citing internal documents, the BTRC has approved the formation of the committee to create regulatory guidelines for offering non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) satellite services in Bangladesh.

Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for telecom and ICT, instructed the BTRC in December last year to issue a licence to Starlink, saying it would be a good way to ensure internet connectivity to remote areas. However, Starlink still doesn’t offer service in Bangladesh.

According to the report, LEO satellite operators like Eutelsat OneWeb and Amazon Kuiper have also been in talks with the government to start LEO satellite services in the country.

The recent outage of the SEA-ME-WE 5 submarine cable link between Bangladesh and Singapore – which has slowed down internet services across Bangladesh – has highlighted the country’s need for alternate internet connectivity options.

However, as the Daily Star reports, Starlink would be an expensive alternative. The terminal kits cost as much as US$599 while monthly subscriptions in most areas is around US$120.

By comparison, Bangladesh ISPs typically charge Tk 500 (US$5.00) per month for a 5-Mbps fixed-broadband connection, while mobile internet packages typically cost Tk 400 to Tk 500 per 30GB, the report said.

The latest figures from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics say there were 130 million internet subscribers in Bangladesh at the end of 2023, 90% of which are mobile users.

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