Afghanistan Seeks Partners to Launch First Domestic Satellite

[Satellite TODAY Insider 04-10-12] The Afghanistan government is seeking a partner to launch the country’s first communications satellite into space within the next six months, Afghanistan’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology Amir Zai Sangin said in an April 9 statement.

   Sangin said the first Afghan satellite would work to improve television coverage in rural areas and provide high-speed Internet access to rural areas across the country.
“We will start the installation process of the satellite very soon,” said Sangin. “It’s our priority to solve broadcasting issues and bring all our districts under coverage.”
   Afghanistan is facing a national shortage of satellite frequencies to broadcast popular television content imported from India and other neighboring nations to its population.
   The number of local television channels in Afghanistan has reached 75 and the number of radio station channels has exceeded 160. The number of domestic mobile phone subscribers in Afghanistan exceeded 15 million this past year, according to Afghan. While more than 40 Internet companies are operating in the country, only 1.5 million people of the country’s approximate population of 26 million have access to the Internet.
   “The satellite launch, in tandem with a shift to digital broadcasting from analog transmission, should resolve the problem,” Sangin added. “Internet access for our citizens is mostly available via satellite, but it is slow and expensive, and fewer than one in 10 Afghans are online.”
   In January, TS2 Satellite Technologies introduced new broadband satellite services to Afghanistan, offering two-way high-speed Internet access that does not require phone lines, cable or dial-up modems. TS2 said its satellite system was designed to meet broadband requirements such as Internet and VPN access to enterprise networks, as well as real-time VoIP and video conferencing.
   “The Internet connection can be shared with other users via wireless or wired network. Most soldiers deploy with a laptop in hand and a hookup to the Internet in their barracks. This is especially important for the many who are married, and have young children. The Internet access has resulted in major morale improvements. Troops no longer feel cut off from home,” TS2 said in a company statement.
   In January 2010, analysis firm NSR said the commercial mobile services market was thriving in Afghanistan due to a steady increase in government platforms and technology investments. The report showed that commercial mobile penetration in Afghanistan increased 18 percent from 2007 to 2009, with 30 percent of the country’s 28.4 million citizens now owning and operating cell phones. NSR analysts claim that this will lead to growth in other mobile markets in the region and the country is positioned for higher bandwidth usage with the development of the mobile web for e-commerce. 

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