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Eutelsat unveils satellite broadband venture brand at AfricaCom

Eutelsat unveils satellite broadband venture brand at AfricaCom

Satellite operator Eutelsat Communications has announced details of the phased roll out of its 'Konnect Africa' broadband venture at AfricaCom alongside a move to give the project a separate identity.

Eutelsat says 341 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa live beyond a 50km range of fibre and many of them people may not ever have access to broadband if this done only through fibre or 3G/4G technology.

Laurent Grimaldi, Chief Executive Officer at 'Konnekt Africa' told ITWeb Africa that 'Konnect Africa' will provide satellite broadband services in Sub-Saharan Africa cost effectively in order to reduce the digital gap despite the changes.

"We want to deliver high speed and high quality broadband at affordable prices with the latest satellite technology which allows us to deliver services everywhere. We identified a need and expectations for broadband in Africa and this company is purely dedicated to Sub-Saharan Africa and broadband. Africa is vast and in order to deliver broadband you cannot rely on one technology. You need fibre but only in very dense areas, you can also try 3G, 4G and 5G and even satellite which can go where the bother networks are not able to reach. We want to reduce the digital divide in Africa and be part of economic growth. We want to team up with local partners like MNOs, DTH and others in every market."

Grimaldi says the satellites used were designed specifically for services to Sub Saharan Africa.

Konnect Africa will offer a range of services from bandwidth supply to end-to-end solutions in Benin, Burundi, DRC, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, swaziland, tanzania, togo, and Uganda throughout 2017.

Angola, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe will only get services rolled out in 2019 after the launch of a Dedicated HTS satellite. Konnect Africa will then consider the upcoming VHTS technology to increase the performance and economics of satellite broadband in the years after 2019.

"We call it broadband through satellite. We are able to sell a satellite dish for a few hundred dollars and prices are going down. We will bring much more capacity and a lower price for bandwidth and an antenna. This is a last mile issue targeting especially densely populated places like Lagos."

Francois Boullete, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Konnect Africa says a similar project was launched successfully more than six years ago in Europe and has reached more than 200 000 consumers.

"Our approach to the market is to partner with the different solution distributors so that we can reach the end user better including SMEs. We can also create WiFi hotspots for villages through satellites as has been done for TV, although the equipment will be a little bit more expensive depending on the number of users. We are aiming to supply connectivity everywhere on the continent but there is no plan to do direct sales. In terms of end user pricing you can sell one day connection for less than a dollar."

A team of twenty staff will be located in key African markets as well as in Europe for Konnect Africa. Boulette says North Africa could not have been coupled with Sub Saharan Africa as part of the initiative because of the sheer number of consumers in both the remote and densely populated parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are home to millions of people that can be reached and are deserving of a focused services.

There will be cooperation between satellites delivering broadband connectivity to North, Africa and Europe where this makes sense.

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