Thanks to the arrival of HTS (high-throughput satellite) in Africa, the demand for VSAT satellite services is on the increase and remains critical to unlocking connectivity on the continent where over 70% still remain unconnected. This sentiment was also evident at the Mobile World Congress 2019 where Intelsat made clear that delivering on the promise of 5G would depend heavily on the provision of satellite networks.
“Once thought destined to be obsolete as mobile and fibre networks were ever increasing penetration in Africa, HTS satellite services are proving they can deliver on today’s customer expectations for high speed affordable connectivity in areas where even mobile networks do not reach,” said Michèle Scanlon, Managing Director, iWayAfrica (Wholesale VSAT Division).
She notes that as elsewhere in the world, Africa is seeing a greater reliance on Internet connectivity as governments strive to enable new digital economies and the many associated economic benefits.
“Every 10% increase in broadband penetration can trigger a 1.38% increase in a country’s GDP, and every 1% increase in broadband connectivity can generate a 5% increase in job creation,” said Scanlon.
“Clearly, the wider the prevalence of broadband, the higher the probability for improved economies, and satellite is definitely key to widening the reach of broadband access in Africa.”
Scanlon adds that, while satellite is often the only means of delivering broadband connectivity in Africa, even if used for mobile backhaul to bring 3G services to remote areas, or as a central point for connectivity in a village, there has been little to no price improvements on VSAT modems.
“CPE equipment pricing remains amongst the biggest obstacle to the successful rollout of satellite broadband on the continent,” she said.
“Until we see large reductions or innovative financing approaches for end-user satellite modems, the utopian goals of mass-scale satellite broadband penetration in Africa may be limited.”