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Bangladesh’s Brotecs makes air-to-ground SATCOM cheaper

Shamim Ahmed
31 Jan 2023 00:00:00 | Update: 31 Jan 2023 00:03:31
Bangladesh’s Brotecs makes air-to-ground SATCOM cheaper

There have been only a handful of stories of Bangladeshis that have managed to shake up the technology-driven world over the years while motivating and stirring up the minds of youths to join the race and do something bigger, braver and bolder.

This is one of those stories. It’s about Brotecs Technologies LLC, which has made a name for Bangladesh around the world and set a uniquely inspiring example for local tech enterprises.

This company has now become a mainstay for billion-dollar aviation companies like Bombardier, Gulfstream and Dassault that sell fighter jets and private executive planes in nearly 100 countries around the globe.

Brotecs co-founder Nahid Hossain is the man now these companies go to when they need to make sure the pilots and passengers of their aircraft are getting the facilities to maintain proper communication with the ground.

Brotecs has developed a technology for them that help aeroplane manufacturers with cheaper talk-time between the flyers and the ground. With this, an air-to-ground call costs only $1. It was $9 before.

The developer company specialises in air-to-ground communications that help celebrities and business tycoons make audio and video calls while travelling by air. They call it “the office in the sky.”

The beginning

The start of Nahid’s journey, however, had almost nothing to do with aviation communication.

“I got admitted into Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology to study civil engineering. But writing codes was my passion.

“That’s why I later moved to the American International University of Bangladesh (AIUB) to study computer science and engineering,” Nahid reminisced while talking to The Business Post recently.

“Before graduating from AIUB, I even worked as a software engineering manager at a big company. But I didn’t pursue jobs because I was more interested in researching, innovating and developing technology,” he said.

He and two of his cousins co-founded the software developer company Brotecs in 2006. And their breakthrough came the next year through their first project from the government of Mexico.

Nahid and his team had successfully built a complete countrywide communication solution for the Mexican government, which put them on the global map of tech and software development.

“We came to realise that we could solve many problems in the aviation industry when we were working on this project,” said Nahid, who also serves as the managing director and chief technology officer of Brotecs.

“Since then, we didn’t have to look back. Now, many complete satellite communication or SATCOM solution providers and even a few Fortune 500 companies are on our client list,” he added.

Becoming a global name

Global players like Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, Gogo Business Aviation, Viasat, Inmarsat and Satcom Direct, who control the SATCOM sector in the business aviation industry, now come to Brotecs for specific solutions.

“Our business has gone global. We provide customised solutions to Chinese businessmen, Arab sheikhs, European celebrities and American sports stars,” said Nahid.

Brotecs provides aviation IoT solutions for more than 150 types of military aircraft around the world.

Its clients include government agencies of different countries, for which such information amounts to crucial intelligence and confidentiality is the top priority.

“We have developed next-generation technologies like NEXT, a smart cabin router that has built-in artificial intelligence. Products like NEXT have also opened up new means to solidify Brotecs’s stronghold in the global market,” Nahid said.

Aiming to innovate and develop technology to solve problems that can change people’s lives, Nahid and Brotecs have also come up with several other products. The company already has five patents under its name.

He said, “We are already working with health tech companies like life365, health and lifeplus.ai. We want to develop a complete package that would make the lives of patients, family members and doctors easy.

“Our package will keep track of all vitals, remind the patient to take medicines on time and inform the doctor of vital history when needed.”

Hiring method

At present, Brotecs, with a good customer base across the globe, employs around 100 workers across its three establishments in Bangladesh and the United States.

“Writing codes for aviation software is not as easy. A developer needs to write the finest codes that will have all abilities to comply with all avionics regulations and standards,” said Nahid.

Hence, Brotecs has a unique way of hiring the coders and developers they need.

“We ask the candidates to solve specific problems. We closely monitor their attitudes and approaches to solving them before we hire them.

“Not only that, after hiring, we give them more than eight months to write codes that go into production,” he said.

“One can have a powerful computer and start writing complex codes. But we write embedded codes. If there is even one tiny bug in the code, it can take up to nine months to fix or rewrite, send and install the code in the device,” Nahid said, putting stress on avoiding errors.

Discomfort in Bangladesh

Asked why Brotecs has expanded its business in the US but not in Bangladesh, Nahid identified the non-accommodating infrastructure as the main barrier.

“Although various incentives are in place for promoting ICT products and services, we are unable to import the hardware on which we write the codes since Brotecs have to work with embedded software,” he said.

His frustration stems from not being able to make the officials at Bangladesh Customs understand what embedded software is and how the hardware works. The delay in import clearance for the hardware products is what frustrates him the most.

He also expressed discomfort with policy constraints for SATCOM growth. “We cannot just set up an Iridium Satellite here in Bangladesh. We won’t get permission for it.”