Intelsat Leading a New Approach to Connecting the Unconnected in Africa
Hans Geldenhuys, Director Sales, Africa
Africa is among the most complex environments for any communications service provider seeking to deliver high-quality and consistently available connectivity to the people who need it. Regional factors and geographical realities contribute to the difficulties of delivering uninterrupted, high-speed communications on par with what is commonplace across most of the rest of the world.
Building, optimizing and managing a network anywhere is a massively costly proposition. In Africa, where revenues per user are lower than in other regions of the world, the commercial case for standing up and investing in an intelligent and dynamic communications network is even more challenging.
All that said, ensuring underserved populations in Africa have access to broadband connectivity is critical. Without access, millions of people risk falling irretrievably behind the rest of the connected world.
Satellite communications providers (CSPs) have historically rushed to the rescue in the aftermath of a natural or manmade calamity that rendered a local terrestrial network unavailable. Today, Intelsat is making a concerted commitment to enhancing day-to-day network quality and helping African CSPs deliver secure and affordable connectivity across the continent.
As the first satellite operator to provide satellite communications services in the continent, Intelsat is now leading the development of our “next first” — a reliable and widely available communications network in Africa. Our team is doing this by investing in the development of a lasting and sustainable communications infrastructure across the entirety of the continent.
Today, advancements in equipment size and mobility, combined with reduced costs for capacity, have made satellite a more attractive option. However, instead of just selling access to megabytes, Intelsat is building satellite-backed, modernized, reliable networks providing all the services required to optimize and maintain the network and ensure it is effectively delivering connectivity for a given region.
Through this innovative managed-services approach, the Intelsat team is making it as easy as possible for African mobile network operators (MNOs) to incorporate disaster-proof satellite communications into an integrated network of networks, as either a primary or redundant communications option. This relieves operators of the burden of managing the nuts and bolts of the network, for which many lack the resources. MNOs can essentially buy an Intelsat “site” complete with antennae, solar panels, and nodes that connect to the satellites in orbit and power the surrounding area with the desired level of communications power, from voice and data to 4G LTE. From there, MNOs can leverage the Intelsat network to deliver basic connectivity to consumer populations while at the same time developing revenue-generating applications for enterprise users.
The people of Intelsat are actively deploying our managed services approach across Africa, working with a wide range of in-country MNOs, governments, and partners. In the best example of this strategy at play, we are working with the largest operators in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to deliver a wide range of applications including trunking, cellular backhaul, and enterprise services. In the DRC, Intelsat is building the sites, powering connectivity, and managing the network as part of a singular, seamless offering.
In other parts of the continent, the Intelsat team is working with oil and gas companies to enhance connectivity for on- and offshore facilities and helping a leading MNO in Burkina Faso build a new network that can serve both consumer and enterprise users in the market.
From the densely populated urban centers to less-developed and more-remote regions and everywhere in between, Intelsat is providing complete support to its African CSP customers and partners, along with the reliability, flexibility, and responsiveness for which our people are known throughout the world. With a model that removes the burden from the operator; introduces modern, next-generation infrastructure; and leverages industry-leading expertise, Intelsat is demonstrating its deep commitment to finally connecting the unconnected across the continent.