17 Sep 2012

How Satellite is Helping Power a Mobile Revolution

The AfricaCom 2012 team are delighted to welcome iDirect as an exhibitor at the event. See below for a guest blog post by Richard Deasington, Director of Vertical Marketing at iDirect.

The mobile industry is booming and one area where growth has been particularly impressive is Africa. And as more users begin to switch from using traditional voice services to using data and Internet services, it doesn’t look like things are going to slow down anytime soon.

According to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, “7 out of 10 [mobile phones] are expected to be Internet-enabled by 2014.” This represents a huge opportunity for mobile operators to expand and grow their business, particularly in remote and rural communities where mobile phones are still the primary means of connecting to the Internet.

Of course, extending 3G and 4G services to remote and rural communities is easier said than done. As more users switch over to smart phones, mobile operators will have to process significantly more data. However, with little to no infrastructure in place, it can be difficult to backhaul this data easily and affordably.

That’s where satellite comes in. New developments in IP-based satellite systems have made satellite more powerful, efficient, and easy-to-deploy than ever before, making it the ideal medium to reach the remote and rural sites that are the key areas lacking 3G and 4G coverage. Furthermore, when combined with a new generation of small cell base stations, satellite is also an extremely cost-effective solution.

If you need more proof that satellite has become a key technology for mobile growth, just look around the show floor. Inmarsat, Intelsat, O3B, Thaicom and Avanti are just some of the many satellite operators here to talk about new opportunities for mobile operators. At iDirect, we are working with all of these companies – and many more – to help provide the ground infrastructure that enables the next generation of connectivity services.

Or you could talk to one of the many mobile infrastructure vendors here. At iDirect, we are also working with many of these companies to make sure our satellite solutions are optimally aligned with their technology.

Our work with Ericsson has been very successful in bringing 2G to the market over the past several years. And through our work with Nokia Siemens Networks, we have achieved extraordinary results with 3G network performance and are now testing 4G LTE services. The launch of high-throughput satellite (HTS) technology will play a big role here, as HTS services are expected to bring much greater power and performance at a significantly lower cost.

Likewise, in our work with small cell vendors like Alcatel Lucent, Altobridge and IP Access, we’re seeing a huge opportunity for small cells and satellite to help mobile operators cost effectively connect small towns and villages. The combination of lower cost mobile and satellite equipment, including solar-powered satellite routers that are small and rugged enough to deploy anywhere, with the new bandwidth capabilities of HTS capacity will make deploying mobile services not only easy, but profitable.

And that’s a good thing for everyone – from the mobile operator, to the satellite operator, to the end user. At iDirect, our goal has always been advancing a connected world. If you want to learn more about how we’re achieving that goal in Africa, stop by our booth and speak with a member of our team.