Digital divide is about to go zero with satellite broadband advances in Africa

Satellite services continues to fulfil an important role in providing the telecommunications infrastructure for Africa's inland and remote rural areas

Digital divide is about to go zero with satellite broadband advances in Africa

Vinay Patel, senior sales director, sub-Saharan Africa, of Hughes Network Systems, says : “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”.

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.

During the annual regional seminar, the attention has been paid on 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.

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