5G will come after elections

Ishtiaq Hussaien, Special Correspondent, Barta24.com
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The high-speed 5G service was supposed to be launched in the country next month. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) had also auctioned airwaves with plans to launch this service in December this year. But everything is uncertain now. Those concerned say that the commercial activities of 5G services will be launched after the elections.

In December 2021, 5G was launched experimentally through Teletalk at 6 places including Jatiyo Sangsad, Secretariat came under this facility. Earlier, in the auction held in March last year, mobile operators bought 190 MHz waves by spending Tk 10 thousand crore.

Currently 3G and 4G services are available in the country. 3G was launched in 2013 and 4G services were launched in 2018. South Korea launched the first 5G service in the world in 2019.

It has been found that even a month before the launch of 5G, the operators have not yet received any related license. It was said that BTRC will issue a unified license for this. And the operators have not yet received this license. So it was not possible to prepare from their side.

Shahed Alam, Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer of Robi Aziata Limited, told Barta24.com that they are fully prepared to provide fast 5G connectivity. There are no barriers to rolling out 5G, but it requires a lot of investment. A huge amount of software and other equipment has to be imported in foreign currency.

"At the start of 5G, we need to change our ecosystem, the towers will need a lot of power, the transmission network to reach remote areas and active sharing will be important. Where the networks are needed, how much the customers will benefit from the 5G service or how the demand will be, preparations are being taken seriously,' he added.

Those concerned said that while the minimum speed in 4G is 7 Mbps, the speed of 5G is 20 Mbps. It will be used in the industry, not at the individual level. In this case, the government could not finalize the specific sector. And it is not possible for the operators to start working with this service until this sector is finalized.

Experts in the telecommunication sector said that an investment of Tk 20 to 25 thousand crores will be required to launch 5G. No operator took the risk of investment as the business field was not finalized. The operators will finalize the investment plan after getting the unified license.

Although by now all the operators have completed 5G trials in the divisional cities including Dhaka. But Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar himself has no concrete explanation for the non-launch of 5G in December. He told the media that they are waiting. Commercial activities of 5G will be launched after the elections.


Accelerating the Application of Artificial Intelligence

International Desk, Barta24.com
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The recent visit of OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman, whose company deals with artificial intelligence technologies and has created ChatGPT, to India and his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi coincides with three important developments. Firstly, Sam Altman’s interaction with the Prime Minister and industry leaders comes at a time when India is Council Chair of the 25 nation Global Partnership on AI (GPAI). Secondly, India is in the process of drafting Artificial Intelligence (AI) regulations through the Digital India Bill, which has been under work for the past one year now. And thirdly, Altman’s interaction while focusing largely on artificial intelligence (AI), also touched upon the need for its global regulation, which is especially significant because the Indian government is looking for conversational AI tools to assist in its administrative tasks. India is pushing to put digital technologies at the core of its inclusive development, in part through widespread internet access and one of the world’s most affordable data pricing schemes. From aid for the farmers in learning about different government schemes, to understanding customer grievances, improving the delivery of health and security services, the government is looking to AI as an enabling solution to help with citizen-focused duties. Altman has lauded India’s efforts in building technology such as UPI, Aadhaar, and the India stack.

When it comes to AI, information, there is a lot of noise and it is clickbaity, but the discussions around AI’s implications must be coherent with initiative coming from the government. The most critical things about AI technology is safety and security and it is important to start considering how AI touches the rest of the portfolios, – AI & cybersecurity, AI & open source, AI & space, etc. So there is a need to look at it not just by itself, but as part of a holistic technology ecosystem.

India has been a paradox. The country developed advanced digital computers quite early and has highly advanced and cost-effective space programmes. Yet until just a few decades ago, the nation lagged in its digital transformation and accessibility. In fact during his interaction with CEOs, Altman also alluded to a lack of infrastructure in India, claiming that it would be impossible to create a tool like ChatGPT for a user in India since doing so would necessitate the development of a specific type of infrastructure.

On the other hand, India possesses unique strengths related to AI technologies, not the least is that Indian companies were ranked second in AI adoption in the Asia Pacific region. AI involving big data analytics, machine learning and data analytics are enhancing performance in key sectors of education, healthcare, agriculture, and governance. India’s thriving start-up ecosystem has dozens of unicorns deploying AI-powered tools in their core services. Globally, India is on top for skill penetration and an AI-ready market valued at $6.4 billion. There are over 4,500 Artificial Intelligence startups in India with different types of applications and parameters. India’s public and private sectors have produced AI-powered tools that improve the delivery of health and security services. For instance, AgNext Technologies deploys AI-based solutions across the global agricultural value chain. Data Science Wizards (DSW) is a Data Science platform and solutions company that provides AI and data analytics platforms and solutions to enterprises for data-driven decision-making. E-khool LMS was founded to create a one-stop advanced AI integrated learning management system useful for schools, universities, corporate and training academies. Synapsica has developed spine AI algorithms, can identify key vertebral points, listhesis, pathologies, and variations and generate preliminary reports in just a click.

Across India, 25 Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH) are promoting the development of emerging technologies to empower national initiatives in crucial areas. Over 500 technological products, including dozens of emerging technologies have been established using TIHs. India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) had earlier launched its Bhashini programme to enable easy access to the Internet, digital services and more content for all Indians in their own languages, using AI powered tools. Numerous startups such as Gnaani, Reverie, and Devanagiri have made powerful strides in addressing language challenges

According to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, AI has the potential to add approximately US$ 957 billion or 15% of the current gross value to the country’s economy in 2035. AI expenditure in India is estimated to surge at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39% between 2019-25 to reach US$ 11,781 million by 2025.

PM Modi has been on point in terms of trying to establish top-down guidance on AI policy. He has spoken several times of the goal to make India a global leader in responsible AI for social empowerment and inclusion, “We want India to become the global hub of AI… Our bright minds are already working towards it.”

Leadership in India has been taking steps towards policy formulation around AI. With National Programme on AI in place and a National Data Governance Framework Policy and one of world’s largest publicly accessible data sets programme, which aims to modernise the government’s data collection, to improve governance and to enable an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data-led research and start up ecosystem in the country.

During his India tour, Altman stated that AI adoption would lead to job losses. Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Rajeev Chandrasekhar believes that although AI is disruptive, it is unlikely to create any threat in the job sector in the immediate future because its application for the time being is task-oriented and not based on reasoning, “It is possible that over the next five-ten years the AI becomes intelligent enough to start replacing human workforce in certain sectors after 5 years. It is possible… But as of today, the application of AI is on tasks. It creates more efficiency — of course, at the very lower levels of intelligence and overly repetitive tasking, it may replace jobs in the coming years

Overall AI employment in India is estimated at about 416,000 professionals. Though he also suggested that AI would also create new roles. Through FutureSkillsPRIME, India’s Information Technology Ministry, MeitY is aiming to upskill/reskill IT professionals in emerging technologies. Aside from being Council Chair of Global Partnership on AI (GPAI) for the current year, India has been collaborating with the United States through the USIAI and with Germany through the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC) on AI related research.

These initiatives will prove to be key for what is a society-changing technology. A broader thought around AI is ofcourse around security. As these AI enabled systems become more and more capable, what are we willing to allow and how are we preparing for a scenario in which there is a ‘super intelligence.’ The challenge of course is in putting up the ‘guard rails’ in anticipation even as the potential of AI is unleashed, and stewarding a system that we are not smarter than.


Enhanced technology skills can ensure global peace and stability says Aziz Ahmad at a discussion in UNHQ

News Desk, Barta24.com
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"We need to embrace all technology advancements with a clear understanding on digital good and digital bad and address the digital divide by reducing gaps in the society at large."

Aziz Ahmad, a renowned technology innovator, entrepreneur, and speaker said on Thursday at a seminar on "Data Collection and Distribution Process as Enablers for the Exercise of Human Rights" held at United Nations Headquarters in New York oroganized by the UN University for Peace as a side event in observance of World Press Freedom Day 2023.

Peace and prosperity can be ensured by enhancing the technology skills among the youths so that they can become the resources instead of becoming the burden of the society, Mr Ahmad underscored.

The Bangladeshi- American technology investor, Chairman of CodersTrust and CEO of UTC Associates, Aziz Ahmad joined the discussion with Jayashri Wyatt, Chief of the Education Outreach Section, Outreach Division, Department of Global Communications, United Nations, Amy Larsen, Director, Strategy and Management at Democracy Forward, Microsoft, Dr. Chris Wiggins, Chief Data Scientist, NY Times and Professor at the Data Science Institute, Columbia University and Dr. Mona Sloane, Senior Research Scientist & Associate Professor, NYU Center for Responsible AI as the panelists.

Renowned UN diplomat and communication expert Ramu Damodaran moderated the seminar while Juan Carlos Sainz Borgo, Vice President of University for Peace was in the chair.

Spread of hate speech, privacy violation in the name of technology advancement are happening, the speakers exphasized their concerns.

"I think we should embrace the technology innovation over innovation but need to ensure a balance in terms of freedom of speech and access to information and see how we can come up with the policy to address the bad elements and bad actors like hackers, even the country sponsored hackers, in the arena of digital technology," Aziz Ahmad said in his discussion.

In the wake of severe underemployment, unemployment across the Globe, Mr Ahmad founded CodersTrust to provide relevant skill sets amongst the the youths so that they can earn from the Global market from anywhere they live, he informed the seminar.

The seminar lauded Aziz Ahmad for the incredible work of his organization, CodersTrust.

Mr. Ahmad shared his experience as a Lead Architect of AT&T once for its 21st Century Network and said some of those technologies still remain while some are now gone from the face of the earth. Sixty five percent of today's elementary school goers, their skill sets, their jobs don't exist now. Forty five percent of our workforce today need to be re-skilled and up-skilled to stay relevant as a workforce. How we address that as a compliance we need to know and that will bring the peace and prosperity, Aziz Ahmad underscored.

AI and automation are diversifying quickly, but billions of people still do not have the access, they are not generating any data, so how to make the approaches more inclusive embracing digital good and avoiding digital bad is a challange, he added.

Hate speech or propaganda we can not limit but we can think about some kind of regulation over it by being careful about freedom of speech keeping digital good in consideration, said Aziz Ahmad.

A very loose framework can be initiated where we can balance our innovations with ethics and compliance bringing rich and poor, men and women and different genders, our conscious, sub conscious thoughts to mitigate the challenges of uncertain future, Mr Ahmad suggested.


WhatsApp outage reported across the world

Newsdesk, barta24.com
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Popular messaging app WhatsApp has stopped working for many users across the world, with users across India, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Asia reporting issues with sending and receiving texts and videos.

"We're aware that some people are currently having trouble sending messages and we're working to restore WhatsApp for everyone as quickly as possible," a spokesperson for WhatsApp parent company Meta Platforms (META.O) said on Tuesday.

Downdetector said more than 11,000 users across India had reported an outage, while the numbers for United Kingdom were at 68,000 and 19,000 for Singapore as of about 0750 GMT.

Downdetector tracks outages by collating status reports from a number of sources including user-submitted errors on its platform. The outage may have affected a larger number of users.

Source: Reuters


New fins are being added regularly to Bangabandhu Hi- Tec City

Serajul Islam Siraj, Special Correspondent, Barta24.com, From Kaliakoir
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New fins are being added to Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City regualrly. Located in Kaliakair, near Dhaka, there is no way to guess from the main gate of this digital city.

Only the main gate is visible from the Dhaka-Tangail highway, and it looks a bit dirty as it was built a long time ago. But the more you go inside, the more logistics you will see. When the main gate opened and enters, the administrative building will fall on the left hand side first. Row upon row of dialysis machines are being decorated on one floor of this building which had to be imported from abroad at a cost of millions of dollars. Each machine saves about Tk. 4 to Tk. 5 lakh. Entrepreneurs hope that this will greatly reduce the cost of dialysis for kidney patients.

Block 4 is a quarter of a kilometer away from this building. This is another proud institution of the country. Data Center is an essential part of Digital Bangladesh. Named Bangladesh National Data Center, it has become the seventh largest data center in the world. In the meantime, it has been able to earn fame from various organizations. Giants like Google and Amazon have also shown interest in storing their data. Those who used to like Singapore or any other country for geographical reasons have also started the deal. Just as the launch of Bangabandhu Satellite is not just an institution, it is a matter of dignity and security, so the data center cannot be considered just an institution. On the one hand, it is saving Tk. 353 crore a year, on the other hand, it is ensuring the protection of state data.

The activities of 11 companies are going on in the beautiful nine-storey building of Sector 3. Engineers are engaged in the work of a factory, while the construction work of a building is going on with great effort.

In 1999, a meeting of the Bangladesh Board of Investment decided to set up a high-tech park on 231 acres of land in Kaliakoir. Later the area was increased to 355 acres. Although the work started in 1999, with the change of government, the potential high-tech park was plunged into darkness. After a long hiatus, when Sheikh Hasina's government came to power again, the path started with a new initiative.

The park has high speed internet, round-the-clock power supply, shuttle train for communication. Free land or space is available at low prices. It is expected to directly create 1 lakh jobs here. The project is being implemented in PPP (Public Private Partnership) model with the overall cooperation of the government. The products produced in the city have various benefits including 10 years tax break. Producers will get 10 percent incentive for export of manufactured software and hardware products.

In Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City, 70 companies have already been allotted 127 acres 24 decimals land and 2 lakh 96 thousand 498 square feet space. Of these, 12 companies are working. 90 percent of the establishments set up in the park will be digital product producers. The path of building a digital Bangladesh is also expected to create 1 lakh jobs in Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City. Meanwhile, 480 jobs have been created, said Director (Finance and Administration) ANM Shafiqul Islam.

Mobile giants like Nokia have confidence here. Robi has been allotted 1.5 acres of land in the software company category in Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City. The mobile operator will invest 2.6 million dollar there. Three acres of land has been allotted to Fair Electronics. The company will invest 10 million dollar in electronics, hardware and software production. Besides, 20.50 acres of land has been given to 9 allotted companies. The companies will invest 140.81 million dollars.

Orix Bio-Tech Limited will produce plasma. At present Bangladesh has to import plasma worth Tk. 2,000 crore. Initially, the company wants to meet 25 per cent of the country's demand, and production will increase by 25 per cent in the coming years.

A world class dialysis machine is being made in the park. An organization called Sonarbangla Foundation has assembled 80 percent at present but is moving ahead with its own production in the future. The company wants to export abroad by meeting the demand of the country in the future. An American company has proposed to build the factory as a supply hub in the Asian region, said Engineer Al Imran Sarkar, Assistant Director (Operations) of the Sonar Bangla Foundation.

Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City Director (Finance and Administration) ANM Shafiqul Islam told Barta24.com that the high-tech park in particular is being industrialized keeping the environment of the area intact as announced by the Prime Minister. The region is not changing much as it was in the past. There is 20 percent greening, the water bodies are being further improved. Although it was delayed due to corona, activities are now in full swing.

The site of the PPP-operated park has been given the responsibility of developing Summit Techno polis and Fiber at Home. The two companies have already allotted space to several companies, sources said. The project will make a huge contribution to the implementation of Digital Bangladesh announced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. This tech city named after the Father of the Nation is being built in the style of Silicon Valley. In addition to easy rail connectivity, Dhaka has multiple alternative roads. There is also improved communication with Chattogram port through Gazipur City. If the Padma Bridge is opened, the river port will establish a road link with Mongla. The government wants to set up 103 such high-tech parks and software technology parks across the country. Through which Bangladesh, a country of emerging economy, wants to touch Vision 2041.