Communities living across the easternmost peninsula of Africa will now be able to enjoy 4G services on their mobile phones. This follows a three-year partnership agreement signed by fixed satellite solution and professional service providers, iSAT Africa and SES. The two companies announced that this new service will be available first via SES’s O3b medium earth orbit (MEO) constellation. It will subsequently migrate and expand to SES’s next-generation MEO system, O3b mPOWER, in 2022.
iSAT Africa is well-established in Africa for innovative mobile internet connectivity solutions for unconnected rural communities. The company will be able to quickly scale its network to meet anticipated extensive connectivity demands. This is consequent upon SES’s highly flexible and scalable O3b mPOWER system. In addition, the fibre-like connectivity will equip iSAT Africa. This will consequently enable local mobile operators to deploy 4G services to close the digital divide. The company is among the first in Africa to sign up for O3b mPOWER.
“At iSAT Africa, we don’t just believe in delivering connectivity to everyone across Africa. It’s also about delivering differentiated, cost-effective and reliable services that will enable various businesses to expand. This agreement represents a leap towards achieving that mission with iSAT Africa being able to deliver 4G services to communities and businesses located in underserved areas. As long-term partners of SES, we are confident this innovative solution will enable us to offer differentiated connectivity services to our telco customers,” said Rakesh Kukreja, Founder and Managing Director at iSAT Africa.
According to the GSMA 2020 report, mobile coverage has been expanding in Sub-Saharan Africa quickly. Furthermore, 3G coverage expanded to 75% compared to 63% in 2017, while 4G doubled to nearly 50% compared to 2017. However, the coverage gap in Sub-Saharan Africa remains the highest globally. This is as it is home to 67% of the world’s population not covered by mobile broadband. This gap is because attempts to deploy 4G networks in sparsely-populated rural areas continue to be an economic challenge. SES’s MEO satellite-based MEF-certified service is an ideal solution. The reason for this is that the service can ensure seamless interconnectivity with any network.
John-Paul Hemingway, CEO of SES Networks said, “We will be able to revolutionise the connectivity capabilities of mobile operators across Africa together through this agreement with iSAT Africa. The O3b and O3b mPOWER systems will easily enable the deployment of 4G services and high-performance networks for cloud applications regardless of where they are across the region. The enhanced flexibility and scalability of O3b mPOWER will truly connect Africans living in underserved areas in the most economically viable manner.”
Faleti Joshua is an avid lover of space in all its incomprehensible nature. He holds a LL.B degree, and is a pessimist in his free time.