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. 

The Next 10 Years of African Connectivity

Ben Roberts, CTO,
Liquid Telecom
Hear from Ben Roberts, CTO of Liquid Telecom. Liquid Telecom are proud sponsors of AfricaCom

We all know that the African telecoms market has made huge – and exciting - progress over the last few years; sub-sea capacity probably now exceeds current demand, competition (not necessarily capacity) has brought about a rapid crash in prices and terrestrial fibre networks are being built.

Looking into the future we see a host of possibilities and challenges which will impact on each other:

  • FTTH, WIMAX, LTE and ADSL networks will continue to be built and local loop unbundling will also hopefully start

  • The investment in high speed last mile connectivity will drive growth in subscribers.  More subscribers, using services based around high-speed content, should drive down the cost per Mbps and drive further subscriber growth

  • There will be more investment in terrestrial trunk routes and both national backhaul and cross border links will grow by business cases

  • Interconnection will be one of the hot topics with different businesses adopting different strategies.

Interconnection strategies
Today in Africa, we have some cross-border connections that are mostly selling commercial transit to countries with no landing stations.  However, most African Internet traffic routing is between partially terrestrially connected Africa and in most cases the African Internet is just connecting Africa to Europe. 

Landlocked countries are often taking terrestrial backhaul straight to the nearest cable landing station. Very little content is hosted in Africa though some content is cached regionally.

However, as cross-border traffic increases different types of operators have – and will – adopt one of four strategies:

The National incumbent Telco or PTO may have connection to borders where it interconnects to a similar entity in a neighbouring country but its network almost certainly stops at its own border.

Its cross-border connection may be used for voice, IPLC half circuit and OSS, maybe to sell Internet transit or buy Internet transit from its neighbour. The problems with such connections are lack of SLA and the use of different operator networks mean that there are unlikely to be any SLA or QoS guarantees.

Pan-African Operators – like the MNO Groups, Academic Networks etc
These companies will have sizeable bandwidth needs and a national network in a number of countries that are not necessarily bordering.  As they will have made substantial investments in subsea capacity at a group level, they will link their networks to a Pan African network, aggregating and hubbing the purchased sub-sea capacity at strategic landing points. 

Independent SNO or ISP
These entrepreneurial companies are more focused on last mile and customer acquisition than long distance infrastructure projects though they may have business customers needing international private VPNs.

They will usually interconnect via existing backhaul networks or satellite.

Cross-border operators like Liquid Telecom

Independent wholesale carrier Liquid Telecom has built a fibre network that crosses multiple borders in Southern Africa.  We are servicing the needs of operators of all shapes and sizes providing connectivity to support enterprise, home user and rural broadband customers.   Liquid’s approach is far-sighted and its goal is to keep African traffic in Africa.

The Future

One thing we know for sure is that the Internet won’t develop according to any kind of co-ordinated plan.  This would be impossible given the number of operators and countries involved.  However, we can be sure that, thanks to market forces, broadband will end up being affordable to the majority of residents and businesses.

At Liquid we are aiming for a future that is likely to consist of a diverse connected network. Terrestrial backhaul links will be complete and used to develop networks. Much more content will be produced and hosted in Africa leading to the need for greater interconnection.

About Liquid Telecom   www.liquidtelecom.com

Liquid Telecom has built the largest fibre network in Southern Africa providing backhaul between most urban areas and last mile connectivity in the main cities of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa. Liquid’s network is the first to cross country borders and covers some of the most challenging parts of the world where no fixed network has existed before.  It operates as a wholesale carrier in all five countries as well as an operator in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Come to our booth at AfricaCom to learn more or email bridget@telecomsparafrica.com to arrange a meeting.

5 Nov 2012

MoMo @ Africa Com 2012

If you have not registered already then please click here to register for:

 MoMo @ AfricaCom 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012 networking from 5:00 PM

We are excited to announce the final details of MoMo @ AfricaCom which will be the BIGGEST Mobile Monday event ever on African soil!

Firstly and fore-mostly we can now announce our sponsors, our sponsors are MTN and Qualcomm! These are 2 of the biggest names in mobile and they will rock your world at the event, we can not reveal too much about what they will be doing at the event but let's just say its all about your "Digital Sixth Sense" and it is sure to inspire, educate and inform everyone from entrepreneurs to marketers, designers, CEO's, CMO's and everyone in between!

We can also officially announce that we have a surprise mystery keynote guest who will be imparting their wisdom with all of you for a few minutes. This person has been an MD, CEO, founder, investor, Secret Seven fan ( :-) ) and much more and has had tons of life experience in his reasonably short life thus far. We can say no more at this stage but this person will blow your mind and inspire you!

If you still have not registered for this event go here
Mobile Monday "Bringing the mobile community together!"

Time:           5.00 for 6pm start
Date:           12th November 2012
Venue:         Trinity Cape Town

Tell a friend about this event, click here

MoMo @ AfricaCom is the official prologue event to the MASSIVE AfricaCom conference happening from 13 to 15 November, this conference includes the co-located AfricApps conference we have partnered with AfricaCom to offer special VIP access to these events, please click here for more information.