Satellite services continues to fulfil an important role in providing the telecommunications infrastructure for Africa's inland and remote rural areas, while the dozens of optic fibre cable networks now reaching the continent's shores will - at least initially - have limited penetration inland.
This is the view of Vinay Patel, senior sales director, sub-Saharan Africa, of Hughes Network Systems. Speaking at the Hughes' annual regional seminar alongside the SatCom Africa 2012 conference in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa this week, Patel said there was growing demand for satellite broadband services in Africa.
Hughes Network Systems is reported to have shipped more than 78 000 very small aperture terminals (VSATs) to Africa in the past ten years. To meet increased demand, the company is now expanding its presence throughout the region, with a footprint in South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.
The latest advances
The annual regional seminar covered the latest advances in Ka-band, high-throughput satellite technology, with more than 100 times the capacity of conventional Ku-band satellites.
"The high bandwidth available in the Ka spectrum and the use of multi-spot beam technology enables the delivery of more capacity at faster speeds to smaller dishes - opening the door to upgraded services at lower costs," said Patel.
Hughes is supplying its high-performance Ka-band HN broadband satellite system and terminals for the ground segment of the Yahsat 1B satellite, expected to launch later this year. This will be the first Ka-band satellite to provide broadband internet access to South Africa and other African countries. It will help meet the burgeoning consumer demand for connectivity across the continent.
At the end of December 2011, internet penetration in Africa stood at 13.5%. Africa has a density of only 1.4 telephone lines per 100 people, while the number of mobile connections has grown an average of 30% per year over the past ten years, and is expected to reach 735-million of the continent's 1.03-billlion people by the end of the year.
"In the enterprise market," said Patel, "companies increasingly depend on media-rich applications to expand their businesses. We are seeing growth in satellite broadband connectivity in a number of markets: enterprises looking to cloud and high-availability computing, banking and cellular backhaul. At the same time, governments need high-bandwidth applications to deliver services. Many organisations choose a two-network strategy to ensure uptime. Fibre and satellite can complement each other."
The seminar also highlighted the recently announced HX System 4.0, a broadband satellite system with an economical gateway earth station and high-performance remote terminals.
The HX System is a compact, broadband IP platform optimised for smaller networks with high quality of service requirements. It employs advanced bandwidth management technology, enabling operators to provide a high quality of service while maximising satellite efficiency.
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