[Satellite TODAY Insider 09-25-12] Satellite broadband could play an important role in meeting African governments’ broadband targets, such as increasing broadband penetration to approximately 80 percent of Africans by 2020, particularly through the recent deployment of Ka-band satellites, according to a report published Sept. 25 by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO).
The research, titled “The Socio-Economic Impact of Broadband: the Satellite Advantage,” found that low cost satellite networks are the key to achieving rural access in Africa, especially those that complement terrestrial and submarine cable networks and enhance the broadband delivery ecosystem.
CTO CEO Tim Unwin noted how satellite is not hampered by the challenges faced by fiber networks. “The latest generation of Ka-band satellites will be able to provide a far more cost effective solution than the existing C-band and Ku-band,” Unwin said in the report. “This dispels the idea that satellite is just too expensive, but in fact provides a complementary technology to fibre and mobile in enabling broadband access across Africa.”
The report also cites research conducted in 2009 by the World Bank, which found that in low and middle income countries, a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration accelerates economic growth by 1.38 percent. “This, together with more than 100 studies that have proven the link between the use of ICTs and socio-economic development, has led policy makers to focus on the provision of broadband as a matter of urgency,” the report said. “In 2011, the ITU’s Broadband Commission found that the benefits of broadband are profound – in opening up young minds to new horizons through educational technologies; in empowering women to expand their opportunities through genuine choices; in improving awareness of hygiene and healthcare; and in helping family breadwinners find work, a better salary or return on their goods.”
CTO said that despite the research, the limited availability of infrastructure has constrained the rollout and affordability of broadband in sub-Saharan Africa. Though a number of submarine and terrestrial cable projects have come to fruition in connecting sub-Saharan Africa to the rest of the world, there are huge numbers of people in the region that are unable to connect to services, the report said.
“Our objective is to reach the millions of people in Africa for whom Broadband is still a distant dream” Avanti CEO David Williams said in a statement following the release of the CTO report. “Ka-band satellites, such as our new Hylas 2, provide broadband at costs significantly lower than that of Ku-band and C-band satellites. We believe Ka-band satellite offers a compelling route in providing Broadband to the unconnected in Africa.”