Communications satellite services provider Intelsat will launch its Intelsat 33e and Intelsat 36 satellites on Wednesday 24 August 2016 in what the company describes as a significant moment for a largely under-served African market.
By Cisco Eng. Shingie Lev Muringi
Intelsat 33e will join the company’s existing satellites Intelsat EpicNG and Intelsat 29e to cover the Middle East and Africa, while Intelsat 36 will mostly serve pay TV provider MultiChoice which will leverage the Ku-band payload following the launch.
Brian Jakins, Africa Regional Vice President of Sales at Intelsat says the uncommon decision to launch two satellites at the same time makes commercial sense for the company.
“It made commercial sense for us to be looking at co-locating these two satellites on the same launch, they serve the same market predominantly although Intelsat 33e covers a wider range going all the way through Europe as well as Asia and the Middle East. So, from a commercial perspective that is one of the reasons, as well as the time to market. Africa has shown a lot of growth on the broadband side and there is also a lot of growth on the media side as well and I think it [the dual launch] was related to a combination of timing and commercial attractiveness.”
Jakins confirms the growing demand by its customer base for higher throughput, capacity and efficiency, as well as trends which reflects Africa’s growth prospects in communications, broadband and media.
“The market is robust and it is growing and if you look at Africa’s internet penetration we have been trailing at around just under 15 percent. Our population as a region is often compared to Latin America and their internet penetration is almost at 40 percent, so from an internet penetration perspective you can see that there is a huge demand for broadband capacity. We have somewhere in the region of 300 million broadband connections and the market is generally underserved. There is a large population across Sub-Saharan Africa that are not connected to any form of technology and this is where sattelite plays a big role by enabling us to connect those at the last mile, to connect those rural and underserved communities. Having been in the in the telecommunications industry in Africa for the last twenty years and with intelsat for the last year now, it is really an exciting time with the technology developed from a satellite point of view which is ideally placed to service all those markets.”
Jakins also emphasizes the value of partnerships with mobile network operators, among others, which are managed by Intelsat staff from offices in South Africa and Senegal, to help achieve the goal of connectivity everywhere on the continent.
He says partners and customers such as Coca Cola, Multichoice, Vodacom and Gondwana International Networks subsidiary AfricaOnline are enablers for last mile connectivity and conquering challenges of terrain, cost of deployment, sustainable technology and growing demand.
“Beyond this launch we have another launch happening in February next year which will be the third of our Epic range satellites. We have about seven satellites planned over the next four years particularly to serve that technology phase that we need to bring. There is a big drive on our side to have this complimentary platform in place. We are also an invested partner with One Web which is working on low constellation satellites which will bring lower latency, higher speeds and greater capacity. We are primed for having a fully interoperable geo earth orbiting satellite constellation. There is a lot that is happening from our side into this infrastructure.”
Intelsat 33e is the second of Intelsat’s next generation, high throughput satellites with Ku-band and C-band spot beams to meet broadband demand for carrier-grade telecom services, enterprise networks, some media services and aeronautical connectivity.
Intelsat 36 will be co-located with Intelsat 20 at 68.5°E, Intelsat’s premier direct-to-home (DTH) neighborhood in Africa.
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