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Ka frequency a game-changer for VSAT in Africa

Ka frequency a game-changer for VSAT in Africa.

The rollout of Ka-band frequency and the development of more innovative, high speed solutions has opened up the consumer space, particularly in regions like South Africa, Angola, Nigeria and East Africa, says senior executive from an established VSAT services firm.

More widespread application of the Ka-band frequency and aggressive push by service providers to launch satellites has heightened interest in VSAT services among consumers, including SoHo and corporate customers, and opened up opportunities for the entry of additional service providers into the Africa market.

It has also forced already established operators to introduce new services to keep ahead of competition – particularly given the increase in demand for broadband capacity on the continent - says Kevin Viret, Business Development Director for Africa at UAE-based and Africa-focused satellite communications firm Yahsat.

The satellite services company is busy prepping for the launch of its third satellite offering in Q1 2017, and is excited to have recently signed an MoU with existing partner IEC Telecom Group to exploit further opportunities on the continent (particularly around the enterprise and NGO segments), specifically in support of the rollout of the broadband services offering YahClick.

This alliance ensures that Yahsat can position international service partners to service specialised markets and also establish presence on the ground – a facet of operation that is imperative to business success in Africa, according to the company. "We have resources and facilities on the ground to encourage local entrepreneurship and skills development," says Viret.

The regional executive also highlights the company's technical capability and business model strategy as factors behind its strength in the market.

"We have come in with the right price point and the speed of solution we offer has helped us to become the fastest growing VSAT operator in Africa in terms of subscribers on the ground," he adds.

Viret says Yahsat was initially the first to enter the market as a Ka-band operator – and enjoyed early dominance as a result, but since then the space has become more competitive with the arrival of more operators and more products.

Ka for broadband

Ka-band uses a higher frequency than that of Ku-band, with wider spectrum, advanced VSAT transmission technology and higher throughput, and is generally considered a highly effective technology to help meet the growing need for broadband.

Viret confirms the company's readiness to launch its third satellite offering, the Al Yah 3, in early 2017. Once launched, the Al Yah 3 will effectively extend YahClick to 19 new African markets.

System supply contractor Orbital ATK partnered with Yahsat to work on the Al Yah 3 project.

The satellite's orbit location is 20°W, and it features a commercial payload of 58 spot-beams – or satellite signals that are transmitted to a specific geographic area.

The company believes the introduction of the Al Yah 3 will not only enable it to top up broadband capacity in markets including South Africa, Angola and Nigeria, but will also expand the company's service delivery and reach to other markets.

Yahsat will simultaneously look for potential reseller partners in the regions it engages. According to Viret the intention is to back up its existing global IEC Telecom Group partnership with local partners, those that understand the dynamics of local business environments and requirements.

"Our objective is to have these partnerships in place by September, but this is an internal target. The call to action is to engage with the right service partners," says Viret.

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