Govt plans 5G for Dhaka this year
The government is undertaking a project involving about Tk 200 crore to roll out fifth-generation or 5G mobile network on a limited scale in Dhaka by the end of this year.
"5G equipment will be set up in 200 points across Dhaka under the project," Md Mamun-A- Rashid, a member (secretary) of the Planning Commission, told The Daily Star.
The proposal for the project, which will be implemented by state-owned telecom network operator Teletalk, has already been sent to the planning ministry for review.
"For now, 5G is not for general people as it has no implications for them. So we want to bring about industrial applications," said Mustafa Jabbar, the posts and telecommunications minister.
Primarily, 5G services, which are able to deliver data speeds up to 50 times faster than 4G networks and serve as critical infrastructure for a range of industries, will be set up in the capital.
"Then, the 5G network will be expanded to divisional cities and district levels. The expansion will depend on the demand because if we roll out 5G and see it has no users, it will not be a good thing," he added.
Jabbar went on to say that this was, in a way, a pilot project which would determine how far the country can go with this technology.
Asked who will be the beneficiaries of the 5G technology, he said it would be used to augment artificial intelligence and internet of things (IoT).
Many have no idea about it since use of the service was not common, he said.
"If anyone wants to use a robot in his house, he might need 5G. The farmers who use IoT devices to determine the need of irrigation or fertilisers in their cropland need 5G. Many fisheries can use 5G for their IoT devices as well as to curb costs," Jabbar said.
Another main use of 5G services will be in factories which need high internet speeds for running the latest machinery.
"So, we are planning to introduce 5G networks in the big industrial and economic zones," he added.
According to the posts and telecommunications minister, there would be no need to set up new towers or base transceiver stations (BTS) for the 5G network thanks to a new project approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday.
The around Tk 2,200 crore project aims to take Teletalk's 4G network to rural areas and upgrade the existing core and transmission networks to make it ready for the launch of 5G technology.
The main activities of the project are to set up 500 private BTS and 2,500 shared towers, enhance the capacity of the existing 2,000 BTS, install 200 mobile BTS, and upgrade existing 1,000 2G and 3G BTS to 4G.
"We will install 5G equipment on these BTS," said Jabbar, adding that once the just approved project was implemented, user capacity of Teletalk would double.
After the Ecnec meeting, Md Mamun-A-Rashid of the Planning Commission told journalists that the 2,500 BTS, rented from private operators, would be acquired through an open tender.
Planning Minister MA Mannan said they were going to invest more on strengthening Teletalk.
Asked why the government is investing in the loss-making network provider, Shamsul Alam, the state minister for planning, said the government has to run many institutions despite losses keeping public welfare in mind.
"Besides, the call charge rates fixed by private operators are almost double compared to Teletalk, so we want to give people services at a cheaper rate," he added.
Alam also said there were some remote areas where private operators were not interested in expanding their network, so the government keeps the interest of those people in mind while approving such projects.
The government also approved a project to set up the country's biggest solar power plant in Madarganj upazila of Jamalpur in a move to raise the share of renewable energy in total power generation to 10 per cent by 2025.
The 100-megawatt Sheikh Hasina Solar Park will cater to the needs of its locality and channel the surplus electricity to the national grid.
To be implemented by Rural Power Company by December 2023, the project's total expenditure was set at Tk 1,511 crore.