7 Nov 2012

Africa gets addicted to data

Hear from Alastair Bovim, Managing Director of InmarsatSolutions South Africa. Inmarsat is exhibiting at AfricaCom.

From Cairo to Cape Town, African city dwellers have started to enjoy the luxury of high-speed data thanks to the increase in urban fibre and 3G networks across the continent. But for many individuals and companies, the urge to be continually connected is like an addiction, causing intense frustration in rural areas where network access is limited or unavailable.

Satellite communications are filling this void. Increasingly, companies are choosing to rely on satellite networks to support employees in remote locations, ensure the operations of critical infrastructure, and deliver the same services at remote branches as those available in large cities.

One sector where the increase in use of satellite is particularly remarkable is the oil and gas industry.  It enables geophysicists and geologists appraising prospects in remote locations to make decisions quickly; allows tracking of mobile assets; and with M2M and SCADA it controls telemetry for environmental monitoring.

Satellite also plays a vital role in emergency situations including telemedicine. If an employee on an oil-rig is injured, a video link with a doctor can provide treatment and stabilise the patient and decide whether a helicopter trip to hospital is necessary.

Satellite gives oil companies full control of their extraction and distribution infrastructure to maintain productivity and ensure delivery.  CCTV and sensor monitoring of wellheads and pipelines can provide real-time diagnostics about faults and emergency situations. Should an incident occur, an expert back at HQ can view live video streamed from an on-site video camera.  Centralised monitoring of remote assets and sites also helps oil and gas companies to comply with health and safety and insurance requirements.

Furthermore, logistics managers can monitor their vehicle fleet and be in continuous contact with the control centre, drivers, warehouses and customers awaiting delivery. Not only does this enhance operational efficiency, it also provides a greater level of security for cargo and drivers.

Satellite communications can provide a boost to staff and contractor welfare at remote sites when they are often working away from home for extended periods of time. Pre-paid airtime cards for tablets and smartphones, as well as handheld satellite phones, are an easy way to stay in touch with friends and family via phone, Skype, email and social networking sites.

Whether a business is in oil and gas, mining, construction or aid, they are becoming dependant on having voice and data communications in all types of locations and environments. With harsh weather conditions being a fact of life in many parts of Africa, the reality of 99.9% connectivity with satellite is a compelling proposition.

When other networks are congested or fail – perhaps during heavy rain, Saharan dust storms or even earthquakes – satellite will continue to meet our growing dependence on ‘always on’ communications.


About Inmarsat

Inmarsat is the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services. It offers an unrivalled portfolio of broadband, M2M, voice and value-added services, connecting you wherever you are.

Inmarsat was formed in 1979 to provide safety and other communication services to the maritime community. Today the company serves a wide range of enterprise and government customers on land, at sea and in the air.

Inmarsat’s offers 99.9% satellite and ground network availability, which is why our services are depended upon and trusted worldwide.

And with its forthcoming higher L-band streaming rate launching next year, closely followed by the introduction of Global Xpress®, a game-changer which will deliver global voice and unparalleled performance and speeds of up to 50Mbps, Inmarsat will further enhance its stance as a market-leader.

Visit our website at www.inmarsat.com

Inmarsat is a proud exhibitor of AfricaCom. Come and visit us at stand E17e.