Dejan Kastelic, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Vodacom, announced during an interview with Developing Telecoms (on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress 2023) that the company would partner with Starlink and AST SpaceMobile to utilise the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite services to bridge the telecommunication gaps within its African telecom network.
According to the CTO, one of the benefits of leveraging LEO satellites to bridge coverage gaps prevalent in Africa is that they provide higher throughput and latency mediums, essential to enabling high-performance telecom services and connecting end users within two years.
The new project coincides with Vodacom’s “Digital Society” of its strategic Vision 2025. Under the “Digital Society” objective, Vodacom plans to connect 100 million new subscribers to meet the demand for high-performance connectivity and advance digital transformation across Africa. Thus, to achieve this goal, the company will harness space-based technologies to connect remote communities that are hardly accessible to its terrestrial network.
Furthermore, the GSM Association (GSMA) states that more than half of the Sub-Saharan African population cannot access mobile services. Thus, the success of this project will enhance the quality of the company’s telecom services across Africa and provide solutions for the millions of unconnected communities.
As of December 2022, the African subsidiary of the British company Vodafone had 137.89 million subscribers spread across Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, and Egypt. It also has stakes in Kenyan telecom company Safaricom and its Ethiopian unit Safaricom Ethiopia.