Viasat, a US-based publicly-traded commercial satellite operator, is exploring expansion into the Nigerian market as part of its global expansion strategy.
Viasat team on Monday met with officials of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Abuja to provide updates on its readiness to deploy satellite broadband services across Nigerian territory. Both parties had earlier met on 4 March 2019, when Viasat came to discuss its plans to get regulatory supports for entry into the commercial satellite communications market in Nigeria.
At the meeting on Monday which was led by Engr. Augustine Nwalunne, Director, Spectrum Administration at NCC, on behalf of Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, “Viasat sought the Commission’s encouragement and approval to reserve and use the 28 GHz KA frequency band in the country to provide cost-effective Internet connectivity and high throughput satellite connectivity through its incorporated Nigerian subsidiary, Viasat Nigeria,” a public statement on NCC’s official Facebook page reads in part.
According to NCC’s statement, the company also informed the Commission of its plan to conduct a Proof of Concept (PoC) test in Abuja in 2020. Thereafter, Viasat plans to roll out in a community, and subsequently extend the services across a state and then proceed to extend its broadband satellite services nationwide by 2022.
With a large existing customer base in North America, Viasat plans to expand its satellite services in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East with the rollout of its global ViaSat-3 constellation – a constellation of three communications satellites with the first launch planned for 2021.
“The new satellites will deliver very high download speeds. Each of the ViaSat-3 satellites is expected to offer 1 terabit or more of total network capacity — a substantial jump from ViaSat-1 (140 Gigabit or Gbps per second) and ViaSat-2 (260 Gbps),” the company said in a statement.
Viasat’s flagship GTH satellite services will target Nigerian homes, governments, schools as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), among others.
While Viasat’s engagement with NCC is aimed at securing regulatory approval and fertilising the ground for its Nigerian subsidiary Viasat Nigeria, one could expect further engagements in other African markets.
The company said it has, over the years, invested over USD2.2 billion globally on geostationary satellite services, and is currently looking at expanding its footprint in the Nigerian commercial satellite market.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.