A new calender is coming up on our walls in a few days. On the eve of the new year we look back at the year just coming up to a closure. 2015 has been an eventful year for the tech scene in Bangladesh. We have a new State Minister for Telecommunication, high-tech park begins its construction, and the government has finally signed contract for Bangabandhu-1 satellite. Here’s a rundown of the most important events that earmarks this year for Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi roads are now on Google Streetview:
If you want to have a detailed look at Bangladesh and its roads, Google’s street view is now at your service. For the first time Dhaka and Chittagong city are now available in Google street view as of 21 January 2015. Now you can spot any location or landmark in these cities and alongside Dhaka-Chittagong highway using Google street view.
Tarana Halim as new Telecom Minister:
On 29 September 2014, then Post and Telecommunication Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui made some controversial comments during a conference in New York, United States. After facing enormous backlash, Awami League government removed him from the cabinet on 12 October. Following that, the Post and Telecommunication ministry was without any ministerial head for six months. Later, on 14 July this year, former Director, Actress and Lawyer Tarana Halim was appointed in the post.
Construction of the Kaliakoir High Tech Park begins:
High-tech park project finally begins its journey this year. After a long impasse in the process, construction has finally began at the country’s largest high-teck park situated at Kaliakoir, Gazipur. Work on Janata Park Software Park has also gone underway this year. Process has also taken up speed for other 13 potential high-tech park locations including Khulna, Jessore, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Nilphamari.
With the goal of connecting 1 crore more users to the internet, BASIS for the first time organized Internet Week. Grameenphone and the government’s Information & Communication Technology Division co-organized the festival along with BASIS. With three major expos held in major cities, the internet week was observed in all 487 upazillas. Top e-commerce companies, mobile apps developers, web portals and device manufacturers participated in the week and accompanying expos.
7 lakh Bangla words in Google Translator:
7 lakh Bangla words, phrases and idioms was added to Google Translator in a single day, all thanks to the young volunteers. The event was organized on the Independence Day on 26 March at 11 in the morning with a target of adding 4 lakh words. The session continued till 6 in the morning the next day with only three hours worth of intermission in between. After meeting the target of 4 lakh, the volunteers nearly reached its double in given time. In terms of the number of words added, Bangla took second place after Spanish (68,000) in the world that day. Tech portal HiFiPublic assisted in the organization of that event.
Several Social Media Blocked, and for some brief moments, Internet:
Internet connection was shut off for nearly 2 hours across the country in the month of November. On the same day, Post & Telecommunication Ministry ordered BTRC to temporarily shut down popular social media sites and services such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Viber after a decision made at the Interior Ministry citing public security. After a long ban that spanned 22 days, site access were restored on the media on 10 December. Within days, Twitter, Immo – a messaging app and Skype was blocked again on 13 December, which lasted only through the day.
SIM and Handset Registration:
After assuming her role at Post & Telecommunication Ministry, Tarana Halim declared a new campaign of registering SIM cards. SIM registration officially started on 16 December and it requires fingerprint or biometric identification. SIM registration will continue till June, 2016. The minister has also declared that, handsets will also have to be registered the same way as SIMs.
One of the biggest story on 2015 was the contract Bangladesh government awarded French Thales Alenia Space to construct the country’s first satellite. Satellite launch date has been set to 16 December, 2017. After the launch Bangladesh will join a large group of Asian countries with their own national satellite capacity.
Fenox Venture Capital Begins Journey in Bangladesh:
Silicon Valley based Fenox Venture Capital begins its journey in Bangladesh this year. State Minister for Foreign Ministry Md. Shahriar Alam inaugurated their launch on December 2015. State Minister for ICT Junaid Ahmed Palak chaired the ceremony. Fenox has been working as a venture capital with $15 billion dollar fund in its hand. Their goal is to invest $200 million in Bangladeshi ICT sector. They have already made investment in two local companies and are in talks with several others.
Facebook’s Free Internet Begins Journey:
After a long wait, Facebook’s free internet service project internet.org begins its journey in Bangladesh via mobile operator Robi’s free internet offer from this year’s May. More than 25 million people are using this free internet service from Robi in Bangladesh.