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OP-ED: Building a nation of innovation

  • Published at 10:38 pm March 21st, 2021

The path towards 5G requires innovative R&D, cross country collaborations and contribution from the local talent pool

As nations around the world continue the race to advance connectivity, the road towards 5G has not been a linear one. 

Access to connectivity today is imperative as a lifeline for people – whether it is working and learning remotely or staying connected to the people we love, many of us can relate from personal experience that connectivity has allowed us to bridge distances in the last year. 

On a national level, government entities are ramping up efforts to meet digital agendas and accelerate recovery in their respective countries, made possible through collaboration with key players. 

The path towards 5G requires innovative R&D, cross country collaborations and contribution from the local talent pool.

This is no different in Bangladesh, where creating a sustainable and advanced telecommunications industry relies heavily on players within the ecosystem to collaborate effectively.

There is still much to do to progress connectivity in the country, with We Are Social and Hootsuite’s latest Digital 21 report ranking Bangladesh on the top three nations with the highest number of unconnected people (71.2 per cent).

With that in mind, we were encouraged to fulfil edotco Group’s commitment as a nation-building partner and established the first Centre of Design Excellence (CoDE) in Bangladesh. 

CoDE is an initiative to harness the power of a local matured telecommunications engineering talent pool and to develop and optimise connectivity solutions within the country, while extending the mission through cross-country collaborations across the Group’s regional footprint.

Creating a foundation for a 5G-powered nation 

Government bodies and industry players have a shared role in enabling and advancing connectivity. 

This is also where having the right infrastructure partner can help map out the solutions needed to fulfil the nation’s connectivity needs and help lead all different players within the ecosystem to collaborate effectively.

edotco is also embracing a wider role in bringing industry players together and breaking down the silos that have previously confined Mobile Network Operators (MNO) to work within their own operations.

As an independent tower company, we work with all the stakeholders within the telecommunications industry and are in a unique position to bring players together to drive conversations towards growing the telecommunications landscape. 

edotco is helping Bangladesh move its Digital Bangladesh Vision forward by building the right foundation through research, innovation, leading industry collaboration and ultimately the deployment of next-generation technologies.

Today, CoDE continues to lead this aspect while developing blueprints that can be optimised across the region, further meeting the unique connectivity needs of each market.

Through CoDE, edotco has also successfully deployed active projects such as in-house design and the optimisation of sites to standardise and improve the quality of tower sites at reduced cost.

In extension to that, edotco continues to ramp up efforts in helping partners across the regional footprint to ensure they are equipped with the right sharable telecommunications infrastructure.

Infrastructure sharing balances the need for both progression and sustainability by enabling MNOs to focus on improving their quality of service while extending their coverage reach, and reducing OPEX for faster, more efficient rollouts which ultimately will benefit consumer with speedy connectivity at a reduced rate.

Advancing connectivity and sustainability through cross-country collaborations

edotco has been developing and deploying technology enabled systems that increase operational efficiency, effectively transitioning from reactive maintenance plans into preventative plans that utilize predictive equipment analytics. 

The ultimate benefit translates to cost optimizations in our operations cycle and increased connectivity uptime for the consumer. 

These developments include looking at the fostering of cross-country collaborations to progress the state of connectivity across all edotco’s footprint while future proofing connectivity through the deployment of next-generation innovations.

Understanding what the market needs is crucial to enabling infrastructure partners to provide the best suited telecommunication solutions. 

edotco applies state-of-the-art data analytics that takes specialised weather data to help with designing optimal solutions for each site. 

One of the tools we use allows us to analyze power generation against wind speed and solar panel capacities. 

With these specifics our engineers are able to build customized solutions depending on the country’s geographical landscape and needs.  

This allows us to address connectivity gaps and reach communities in the most remote parts of the country at a price that is affordable for our customers.

Another example of tailoring our solutions to the needs of the market is when we deployed the country’s first ever street furniture, in collaboration with the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC). 

We were able to install an integrated solution in the form of a multipurpose smart lamp pole, allowing us to combine aesthetically pleasing street furniture with IoT-based technology like delivering free Wi-Fi services, security surveillance, waste management systems and more. 

Fostering and developing future-ready talents to progress the state of connectivity

When we look to the future beyond basic access and bringing a5G-powered nation to reality, we realise the priority for tower companies around the region should be towards developing a dense 4G layer alongside NextGen technology that will help enable 5G. 

However, achieving 5G also requires meeting the demand for cheaper and lighter infrastructure to make the technology affordable and feasible for the masses.

Providing connectivity is a long-term endeavour that involves designing custom made solutions applicable for each unique market, therefore having the right skills from a trained workforce to drive these innovative solutions is key.

As we move towards being a more data driven organization, we have actively looked at opportunities where we can upskill our engineers as well as hire the right data scientists so we can ensure that the solutions we develop are sustainable and meet the right demands. 

Incorporating data analytics into our day to day tasks has also allowed us to make quicker and more informed decisions both in the office as well as on the field. 

Harnessing shared resources, knowledge and expertise from different markets, cross-country collaboration opens opportunities for innovation, allowing nations to develop highly optimised solutions for their country’s connectivity needs. 

We have identified an infinite human capital potential in Bangladesh, and intend to continue fostering this high quality engineering talent towards building a more organic and resilient telecommunications industry that is both sustainable and efficient.

On top of anticipating the connectivity needs of Bangladesh and the region, all industry players should share the goal of transforming the telecommunications landscape while cultivating and upskilling the local industry talent pool. 

Working together with nation-building partners and players within the Telecoms ecosystem, we continue to innovate and expedite Bangladesh’s digital agenda by providing shareable infrastructure to meet our 5G vision for the country.


The author is the country managing director of edotco Bangladesh

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