Development Activities In BTTB

Shahid Matiur Rahman
Ex Member, BTTB, (May`2000)



Recently there have been tremendous changes in the telecommunication sector New technologies such as the Internet and GMPCS have entered the market place necessitating the review of the policy, regulatory issues in telecom sector. Liberalization and deregulation have been introducing new players to the market for telecommunications services. New issues have arisen for different countries such as their commitments to the WTO initiatives and have extended the ambit of National interest in telecommunications. The impending impact of Internet and e-commerce have further precipitated changes to existing frameworks of telecommunications policy, regulation and business.

2. Historical background of BTTB.

Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) was the only monopoly telecommunication operator in Bangladesh till 1989. In the long past the telegraph branch under the Posts and Telegraph Department was created in 1853 in the then British India and was afterwards regulated under the Telegraph act of 1885. This was then reconstructed in 1962 in the then Pakistan as Pakistan Telegraph and Telephone Department. After the Independence in 1971, Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Department was set up under the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MOPT) to run the telecommunications services in Bangladesh.This was converted into corporate body named Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board in 1975. Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board was again converted to a Government Board in 1979.

3. Beginning of Liberalization in telecom sector.

During 1989-90 the process for liberalization was started while four private operators were allowed to operate in different types of telecommunication services. Two operators were allowed to operate in rural areas, one operator was allowed to operate mobile phone services in the country and another operator was allowed to provide service of riverine radio trunking and radio paging services. Three more operators were allowed late on in 1996 to operate for providing cellular telephone services.

4. Services Provided by BTTB.

Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board is the largest telecommunication operator in Bangladesh. It operates basic telecom services, national transmission network and overseas communications. Under PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) BTTB operates telephone exchanges, Tandem exchanges, TAX (Trunk Automatic Exchange), ITX (International Trunk Exchange) etc. In addition BTTB also operates a PSPDN (Packet Switched Public Data Network) through which it provides e-mail, internet and some basic data services in Dhaka and some other cities/towns of the country. The long distance transmission systems of the country are composed of microwave, UHF and VHF radio links. There are four Satellite Earth Stations in Betbunia, Talibabad, Mohakhali and Sylhet, through which BTTB provides the overseas service. BTTB also provides international circuits with two terrestrial microwave links, one with India and another with Nepal. It also provides national and international leased circuits.

5. Target for installation of telephone lines in Bangladesh:

GOB (Government of Bangladesh) has set up targets and goals for short, medium and long term which are based on telephone line density. 1 telephone per 100 population is short term target for the year 2002. 4 telephones per 100 population in medium term target for the year 2010, and 10 telephone per 100 population is the target for the year 2025. Considering population growth rate of about 2%, population in the year 2002, 2010 & 2025 have been considered 130 million, 150 million & 200 million respectively. With this calculation target for telephone lines in the year 2002, 2010 & 2025 have been found as 1 .3 million, 6 million and 20 million respectively. It is expected that the above targets would be achieved by both public sector and private sector investment.

6. Present status of telephone service:

The total telephone capacity of BTTB is now about 500,000 lines and the Pending demand is about 172,000.

In addition to BTTB, six private operators are also delivering telephone services in the country. Among the private operators two are engaged for rural telephony and four are operating mobile phone service. Total telephone line provided by the private operators is about 130,000 lines.

Total telephone line capacity in the country is now about 630,000 lines considering services from both public sector and private sector, and total telephone density is about 0.50 telephones per 100 population.

7. Past growth in transmission system and gateway exchanges.

In, 1971, there were only two high capacity (960 channel) analog microwave links in the country. Rest of the country’s long distance transmission system consisted of VHF system and overhead carrier trunk lines.

The overseas communication in 1971 was available at limited capacity through Dhaka by HF system.National transmission system was improved by establishing a number of analog microwave links like Dhaka-Sylhet, Bogra-Natore-Rajshahi. Natore-Pabna, Bogra-Phulbari-Thakurgan, Phulbari-Rangpur etc. Later on digital PDH microwave radio links were installed between Dhaka-Khulna, Dhaka-Sylhet, Dhaka-Tangail Bogra and Tangail-Mymensingh route. All thana/Upazillas were connected withVHF/UHF links. The old system with overhead carrier lines were abandoned totally.

Automatic trunk service was originally provided by point to; point STD (Subscriber trunk dialing) system, using EMD switches. This was replaced by digital NWD (nationwide dialing) system in 1985 by installing 4 NEC NEAX switches at Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna & Bogra. Later on Alcatel TAXs (trunk automatic exchange) were installed in Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna, two more Alcatel TAX cum local exchanges were installed in Rajshahi and Sylhet.

Bangladesh entered into satellite communication in 1975 when a standard earth station at Betbunia came into operation. Satellite earth stations at Talibabad, Mohakhali and Sylhet were subsequently established. HF system for overseas communication was totally phased out. The ISD system was first introduced in 1983 by installing an ITX at Moghbazar Later on two more ITXs (International Trunk Exchange) were installed, one at Mohakhali and the other at Moghbazar.

8. Present ongoing projects for telephone line expansion.

8.1 On going projects for BTTB telephone line expansion.

Considering huge telephone demand in the country, BITE has taken up few projects for installation of digital telephone exchanges. Under these projects analog telephone exchanges will also be replaced gradually. Detail capacity wise distribution of some of the projects under implementation are shown as follows.

• 138,500 lines capacity in Dhaka Telephone Project (Phase-2) through JBIC/OECF funding.

• 50,000 lines under 200KL telephone lines project in Bangladesh through telecom bond funding of GOB.

• 13,700 lines under 3 TAX Project (local exchange portion) through GOB fund.

• 16,050 lines under 10 districts program through GOB fund.

• 4,500 lines under 4 Upazillas in Gazipur District through GOB fund.

• 2,700 lines under Telecom facilities in Chittagong Hill Tracts area project through GOB fund.

• 26,000 lines under 77 Upazilla program through GOB fund.

• 216,000 lines under Project for Installation of

digital Telephone exchange in different district towns project through suppliers credit from People’s Republic of China.

Total 467,450 lines will be installed under above ongoing projects.

In addition BTTB has prepared few PP5IPCPs for the following projects which additional telephone exchanges will be installed.

• 74,000 lines under project for installation of digital exchanges in Chittagong, Khulna and Sylhet.

• 50,000 lines WLL system in Dhaka through a suppliers credit.

• 200,000 lines modern ditigal exchanges in Greater Dhaka city.

8.2 On going project for telephone lines installation under private sector investment.

A 300,000 lines telephone installation project has been approved by the Ministry of P&T for implementation in the private sector under BOO (Build OWn Operate) scheme for Dhaka city. A 200,000 lines PHS (Public Hand System) is also being implemented to cater for the growing telephone demand of Dhaka city.

9. Present ongoing projects for Trunk Automatic Exchanges.

BTTB has taken up two projects for installation of TAX/Local exchanges. Under the project titled "Installation of 3 Tax cum local exchange" through GOB finance BTTB has installed three TAXs at Barisal, Comilla and Kushtia. Eight TAX/Sub-TAXs will be installed at Mymensing, Rangamati, Noakhali, Raridpur, Jessore, Dinajpur, Rangpur and Pabna against a separate project titled "Installation of telephone exchanges at different district headquarters" under supplier’s credit from PR China.

10. Present on going projects for national log distance transmission links.

BTTB is currently implementing some transmission links on optical fiber with latest SDH digital multiplexing and other transmission links on digital radio with SDH and PDH multiplexing.

Optical fibre transmission links are under implementation through three projects viz. "DhakaChittagong Optical fibre project" under French protocol. "Installation of 200KL telephone lines in Bangladesh" under telecom bond/GOB finance and "Installation of digital telephone exchanges at different district towns" under suppliers credit from PR China and number of links in those projects are 8, 4 and 16 respectively. With the completion of above projects Dhaka and Chittagong, Dhaka and Bogra will be connected through high capacity optical fibre links resulting in improved telecom services between different parts of the country.

Digital microwave long distance transmission links will be implemented through three projects namely "Installation of digital telephone exchanges at different district towns" under suppliers credit from PR China, "Installation of 200KL telephone lines in Bangladesh" under telecom bond/GOB finance and "DhakaChittagong optical fibre project" under French protocol and the number of microwave hops under those projects are 1920 and 3 respectively.

After completion of above mentioned long distance transmission links, all the district towns of the country will be under coverage of digital transmission. Moreover it will be able to form few meshes in the northern and southern part of Bangladesh, which will improve service reliability in long distance transmission.

11. Access to under sea submarine cable.

Access to under sea submarine cable is a long awaiting desire of BTTB for providing better wide band international services needed for data entry and other emerging multimedia services. A project prepared by BTTB will be implemented soon after getting necessary approval.

12. General remarks about the BTTB on going projects.

12.1 Major scope of Dhaka telephone project phase-(II) having total installation capacity of 138,500 telephone lines are (a) installation of 8 new main exchanges with 13 RSUs (b) expansion of 5 existing exchanges (c) installation of a junction transmission with digital SDH network (OFC & MW) consisting of two optical fibre rings. (d) installation of subscribers cable network and small capacity WLL (Wireless Local Loop) system.

12.2. Major scopes in the project tilted "Installation of digital telephone exchanges at different district town" are installation of 189,000 telephone line at 58 district towns, 27,000 telephone lines at 83 Upazillas, 8 numbers TAX/Sub TAXs, 7 number NMCs and a wide range of long distance transmission links with optical fiber and SDH digital microwave. Out of total 216,000 subscribers line, 23,550 subscribers will have access through WLL (Wireless Local Loop) base at district town and rest 192,450 subscribers (in district towns and upazillas) will have wire line access facility.

12.3 After completion of all on going projects all the district towns including Dhaka city will come under full digital coverage irrespective of switching and transmission network.

12.4 The project for getting access to under sea submarine cable will open a new horizon for international communication for wide band telecommunication services.

13. Introduction of new type of network and new services.

In consideration to the latest trend of development of new types of network and services, BTTB has prepared some new projects to cover the following areas

a) Installation of ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network)

b) Installation of IN (Intelligent Network)

c) Installation of ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode)

d) Installation of Internet service nodes, routers and processors.

e) Installation of Signal Transfer points (STP). Expansion of PSPDN and introduction of

IPPSTN (Internet Protocol Public Switched Telephone Network).

14. Conclusion:

Telecommunication is both an industry and an infrastructure which helps other infrastructures to grow. Absence of good telecommunication facilities deters investment in other sectors of the economy. One of the objectives of the Fifth Five year plan is to extend and develop telecommunication in the country through establishing new telephone lines in both public and private sectors. The government has opened the telecommunications market to the private sectors in under to meet growing demand of the country.

(Teletech 2000)