Imagine how it would be if you could download a high definition (HD) quality video document in one second and could control your business from wherever you are.
Yes! That day is not so far off. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will be rolling out the 5G technology by early 2021.
As part of the work plan, the commission is currently working towards preparing a guideline on 5G. It has already formed a committee to this effect, headed by commission member (Spectrum) Aminul Hasan.
On July 25 last year, the commission had operated a trial run of 5G with the cooperation of Robi mobile operator and Huawei technology at hotel Sonargaon, recording a speed of 4.36 Gbps.
If the BTRC plan works out, internet speed will be increased up to 20 to 30 times, dramatically lowering the cost of the internet.
The BTRC on Wednesday officially revealed its work plan of making 5G internet service available in the country.
The plan was made public at a programme titled, "Seminar on 5G in Bangladesh", at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) in Dhaka.
The BTRC initiative comes against a background of a recent report of the World Bank, titled "World Development Report 2020: Trading for development in the age of global value chains." The WB report noted that Bangladesh is the second-worst country in terms of 4G technology coverage, whereas the Maldives is on top with 100 4G network coverage. Analyzing data from 2018, the report says that only 17 per cent of people are privy to 4G in Bangladesh.
Posts and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar, who was present at the programme, said 5G and fourth industrial revolution are interrelated. BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque also spoke on the occasion.
In his remarks, Mustafa Jabbar said, "5G is not a technology to talk over phone and to browse the internet. And it is not a small wave in our lifestyle. Even now, when we talk about 5G we don't know how and at what levels our people, industries and business will use this technology once it is introduced."
The minister was critical of the current state of 3G and 4G network services. He said, "Whenever I talk to the young generation, they complain that they are not getting the required internet and speed and that the internet does not work. I am in total agreement with them."
"The digital operators and internet service providers have failed to come up with the services they had been expected to provide," he said in irritation.
He said that every day transactions amounting to about Tk134 crore are taking place through mobile phones.
"I guess some people will do away with the need for banks after 5G is introduced," he added.
BTRC Commissioner (spectrum) Aminul Hasan, Ericsson's head of network solution Abdus Salam, Grameenphone's general manager Radwan Hasan and BTRC's director Brigadier Shahidul Alam made separate presentations at the seminar.
Describing the current state of internet technology in Bangladesh in his welcome speech, Commissioner Aminul Hasan said that under the first-generation (1G) internet, users got voice call services while the second generation (2G) brought SMS services along with voice.
Later, third-generation (3G) technology came in with video facilities, while 4G added multimedia to the services preceding it.
"Now 5G is expected to be a revaluation through creating automation in all sectors," he added.
Abdus Salam of Ericsson Malaysia said that 5G could be a game-changer for the RMG sector by turning it into a landscape of smart factories, productivity and efficiency.
"5G will help our industrialists control the production line from remote areas by using an increasingly smart system hosted in clouds. It will be easy to track the volume and location of stock and equipment," he added.
In his presentation, BTRC director Brigadier Shahidul Alam disclosed the work plan relating to 5G. He said that by the first quarter of 2020, a draft guideline will be formulated and by the second quarter the ministry will approve it. The spectrum for 5G will be assigned by the third quarter and the technology will be launched by 2020.
"At the beginning of the year 2021 5G will be rolled out in the country. All divisional headquarters will benefit from the service within a period of 12 months. Next year, it is planned that 50 per cent of all district headquarters will have the service and by 2023 all district headquarters will come under 5G coverage," he stated.
Grameenphone's general manager Radwan Hasan pointed to three key challenges in his presentation, which are Access to Spectrum, Access to Infrastructure and Policy Regulation.
Under Spectrum access, the challenges are affordable pricing; frequency band harmonization & release plan and access to unlicensed bands. Affordable and robust access to fibre, densification of sites, affordable sharing and availability of sites are the main challenges under the infrastructure aspect of the programme.
"The probable final challenges in the initial stage could be cross-ministry and industry collaboration, cross-border data flow, device and SIM Tax waiver and simplified and faster approval process," he added
It is to be recalled that the government introduced 4G services in 2018 and 3G in 2013.