The first-ever bamboo telecom tower built with homegrown technology was installed on the rooftop of a house in the capital’s Uttara on Tuesday.
The innovation is the outcome of a joint collaboration between Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and mobile phone tower company edotco.
Led by BUET Professor Dr Syed Ishtiaq Ahmad, the research and development of the eco-friendly tower focused on the design and viability of bamboo as an alternative material to traditional steel structures in telecommunications.
“We are very pleased to see the installation of the first bamboo telecom tower in our country. Bangladesh is a country with plenty of natural resources, including bamboo which is a renewable material,” said Dr Syed Ishtiaq Ahmad. He also said feasibility studies have shown that bamboo is a good material choice for telecoms tower due to its properties.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Telecommuni-cation Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has said it will intensify its monitoring on the potential health hazards caused by the radiation emitted from mobile phone towers.
“We are intensifying our monitoring to see if the mobile operators are following the guidelines,” BTRC chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood told reporters on the sideline of an event at a local hotel marking the installation of the bamboo telecom tower.
BTRC allows licences to mobile phone companies for construction of mobile towers or BTS as per the specifications of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in regards to the level of radiation emission.
Responding to a quarry, the BTRC chief said, “We are not measuring the radiation released from mobile towers as we have not received any complaint so far.”
He said the BTRC follows the ITU guidelines on the radiation emission from mobile towers. “So the BTRC does not need to formulate separate guidelines in this regard,” he added. Also, the High Court on Tuesday directed the health ministry to obtain a report from the experts of three international organisations on the health risks from mobile tower radiation.
“There are nearly 30,000 mobile phone towers across the country and the number will go up further after the launch of 4G technology,” the BTRC chief said.
He said they have already decided to introduce separate companies for tower services telephony services, adding that the technology of mobile towers is very simple, but the country will need more towers that will require capital investment. Shahjahan Mahmood said mobile operators including Grameenphone, Banglalink and Robi are providing telephony and data services only and they will not be allowed to build their mobile phone towers very soon. “Besides, tower sharing or building is a very important sector here and this sector would be handed over to other companies,” he said.
Referring to the innovative bamboo technology for construction of telecom towers, the BTRC chief said, “If this experiment turns out to be successful, we would help build eco-friendly mobile phone towers by providing incentives.”
Studies indicate that untreated bamboo has the ability to bear the weight of concrete while possessing the rigidity and tensile strength to support its own weight, making it a material for telecom structure. It can withstand gusts of up to 210km/h, with an expected lifespan of approximately 10 years with proper maintenance. A bamboo tower takes around 12 days to construct and consumes less energy to manufacture compared to traditional steel towers. The structure has a capacity to house up to 8 antennas at a time, enabling co-location.
To ensure the successful deployment of the bamboo telecoms tower, edotco has experimented the unique solution at an experimental demo site in Kanchpur in Dhaka last December.
“The bamboo telecoms tower is our latest innovation which we conceptualised utilising natural, sustainable resources to build telecommunications infrastructure to lessen the impact on the environment,” said Suresh Sidhu, CEO of edotco Group.