It’s been a remarkable year for the country. We've seen the vicissitudes of our one-time untouchables change. The year has also been witness to several technology-related events that have had a synergetic effect on the industry, inspiring local talents and entrepreneurs to contribute more to the country's hi-tech image.
Following in the footsteps of Bill Gates, Intel Corporation Chairman Craig R Barett visited Bangladesh on September 4 and introduced the giant's World Ahead Program, which is about providing hi-tech facilities for underprivileged communities across the globe.
Intel teamed up with Grameen Solutions, the infotech wing of Grameen Bank, to implement the World Ahead Program. The two will jointly promote and support digital-inclusion projects across Bangladesh to improve education, connectivity, and access to technology, localised internet content and software applications.
Intel will distribute low-cost Classmate PC as part of this program. Classmate PC is a lightweight, mid-range gadget that helps rural students learn in an interactive way. According to Intel, this new method of learning has had a significant impact on traditional education system.
Intel and Grameen also plan to deploy WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) technology through public and private partnerships. It is evident that internet-based activities will not flourish in rural areas if high-speed internet connectivity remains beyond the reach of common people.
This year Mobile South Asia 2007 -- one of the prestigious events of GSM operators -- was held in Dhaka from July 10-11. About 152 telecoms experts and high-level officials from South Asian countries attended the conference at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel.
The two-day event chiefly covered the mobile phone industry's overall growth story, its regulatory policies, technological evolution, migration to 3G system, WiMAX, mobile internet, mobile content development, dynamic marketing strategies and data services in rural areas.
Three of the leading cellular phone carriers -- GrameenPhone, Aktel and Banglalink-- gave comprehensive overviews of mobile telecommunications scenario in Bangladesh on this occasion. Several foreign companies attended this conference and showcased their products and services.
IT and telecom companies also displayed their products and services at Corporate Bazaar. It is a fair of local businesses that was held at Bangladesh China Friendship Conference Centre (BCFCC) from February 10-12. CityCell, the first cell phone operator of the country, demonstrated their wireless internet technology which is based on CDMA 2000 1X technology and offers speed of up to 153 kbps.
Telecoms giant GrameenPhone also held a seminar titled 'Real-time Monitoring and Decision Making Advanced Wireless Solution for Increasing Efficiency'. It aimed at managers of financial institutions present at the two-day event.
BASIS (Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services) organised a fair, SoftExpo 2007, for the software industry on March 28 at BCFCC. It drew notable public attention. The exhibition was divided into several zones -- Business Software, Multimedia & Animation, ISP & Data Communication, IT Education, High-End Hardware Solution, Outsourcing and SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) Software. 130 IT companies participated in the fair.
The SoftExpo's theme was 'Turning our People into Resource'. Bangladesh still depends on unskilled labour which is not helpful for country in the long run. In this regard, BASIS is trying to produce skilled manpower in association with government and private stakeholders.
BASIS also organised eight seminars and roundtables during the fair. Prominent personalities, IT professionals, academics and politicians delivered their speech and interacted with the audience with a view to sharing their vision and expertise. Interested people from different professions, and students and faculty members from different universities participated in these programmes.
Bangladesh Computer Society organised their yearly exposition on computer accessories, 'City IT 2007', from April 5-13 at BCS Computer City. The objective of the fair was to introduce general people to new-age technologies and at the same time create opportunities to enrich their buying experience.
Telecom Fair was also a remarkable event in 2007 which was organised at BCFCC from April 16-20. In this event operators and manufacturers came closer and shared knowledge to enrich their operations. Leading telecom service providers acknowledged the potential of this sort of event to conduct their market analysis and extend customer base. This fair created awareness of the present status of the telecoms industry and paved the way for attracting foreign investors. Renowned telecom companies and service providers participated in the fair.
Bangladesh Telecentre Network (BTN) was born this year with a vision to connecting rural and eliminating the digital divide. BTN is a network of telecentre operators and is moving forward with a target to install nearly forty thousand telecentres across the country by 2011. Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed formally launched the operations of BTN at BCFCC on December 6.
Currently more than 800 telecentres are operational throughout the country and this IT solution proved its success by introducing rural people to modern information technology. BTN believes that through collective effort it is possible to empower the marginalised people and at the same time open up the door of huge financial activities.
East West University (EWU) organised a prestigious programming contest, ACM ICPC Dhaka Regional 2007, on December 8 at BCFCC.
The ACM ICPC (International Collegiate Programming Contest) is an IBM -sponsored global initiative to find the best coders. Bangladesh is a regular participant in this event and has an impressive track record as well. This year Buet (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology) occupied the first place, Fudan University of China stood second and East West University secured third position.
Apart from tech events, new wireless internet service called mobile internet gained momentum this year. Now CityCell, GrameenPhone, Aktel, Teletalk and Warid Telecom offer mobile internet service to their subscribers. CityCell uses CDMA technology while others the GSM. Depending on the operators, subscribers can get the mobile internet service by purchasing prepaid or postpaid package.