UAE-based ISAT Africa and SES have signed a three-year agreement to provide 4G services in East Africa. The new service will be available first via SES’s O3b medium earth orbit (MEO) constellation to subsequently migrate and expanded to SES’s next-generation MEO system, O3b mPOWER, in 2022.
Through SES’s highly flexible and scalable O3b mPOWER system that can deliver low-latency high-speed connectivity services from tens of megabits to multiple gigabits per second to a single site, iSAT Africa will be able to scale its network to meet anticipated extensive connectivity demands. The fibre-like connectivity will equip iSAT Africa to enable local mobile operators to deploy 4G services to close the digital divide. iSAT Africa is among the first companies in Africa to sign up for O3b mPOWER.
Commenting on the partnership, Rakesh Kukreja, Founder and Managing Director at iSAT Africa, said: “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.”
John-Paul Hemingway, CEO of SES Networks, added: “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.”
According to the GSMA 2020 report, mobile coverage has been expanding in Sub-Saharan Africa quickly; 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 as it is home to 67% of the world’s population not covered by mobile broadband. This is because attempts to deploy 4G networks in sparsely-populated rural and remote areas continue to be an economic challenge. With telcos and internet service providers increasingly seeking innovative, cost-effective yet reliable connectivity solutions, SES’s MEO satellite-based MEF-certified service that can ensure seamless interconnectivity with any network is an ideal solution.