Bangladesh’s Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications (MoPT) has presented a project proposal at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs under which state-owned Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) would deploy a potential 700,000 new landline connections and countrywide fibre-optic next generation network (NGN) transmission infrastructure. Of the total BDT21.26 billion (USD269.3 million) project budget, Exim Bank of China would provide BDT15.86 billion (74.6%) in the form of a loan and BTCL would stump up the remainder. The rollout will start in approximately six months after ‘completing formalities’, said Abubakar Siddique, telecom secretary and BTCL chairman, as quoted by local newspaper The Daily Star, adding that the government may take the loan from the Chinese state-backed bank at an interest rate of between 1% and 2% and ‘give it to BTCL at around 5%’. BTCL would have four years to implement the project, with the main equipment vendor lined up as China Machinery & Engineering Corporation via selection by the Chinese government. Siddique noted that the proposed NGN/fixed line expansion project – aimed at improving both voice and data services – was first aired in 2009 and has been ‘processed’ for the last six months. According to BTCL it currently has around 900,000 fixed telephony customers on its network with a capacity of more than 1.4 million lines, with most unused lines based in provincial areas.
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