A Billion More Satellite Internet Users

Q: How do you connect 1 billion more Africans to the Internet by 2012?

A: By Satellite, of course.


According to a story by Efem Nkanga in This Day (Nigeria), that will call for launching 20 satellites to do the job:

One billion Africans located in under-served rural and urban areas across the continent are set to benefit from an initiative powered by a non profit association of the international satellite industry called Global VSAT Forum to double the number of earth station terminals operating in Africa by 2012.

The worldwide Global body of firms involved in the business of delivering advanced digital fixed satellite unveiled these plans to newsmen at the ongoing Telecoms Africa forum in Cairo. Mr. Jeremy Rose, Chairman, International Development Initiatives, Global VSAT Forum,  who disclosed this initiative said that more than 20 satellites will be brought into service to connect Africa during the next five years to support this initiative. Rose added that to facilitate the industry’s offering, complimentary capacity building will be delivered to governments in Africa by the GVF. These initiatives according to him are being unveiled to support ongoing plans by the International Telecoms Federation to meet Africa’s  connectivity goals set during Connect Africa Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in October, 2007.

The GSM Association had announced that its industry members planned to invest $50 billion between 2008 and 2012 in networks in Africa, covering 90 per cent of the population.

The Association announced today that the number of mobile connections in Africa has risen 70 million in the past 12 months to 282 million.

Mobile operators have ramped up investment in the region, extending GSM coverage to reach an additional 550,000 square kilometers occupied by 46 million people.

This broadening  coverage along with the falling cost of mobile communications has enabled millions of Africans to get connected.He added that the company’s goal was to provide enhanced opportunities in connecting the next billion people.Earlier, stakeholders had made calls for Africa to have Broadband connectivity at affordable prices that would drive growth in the continent.One of the ways of driving this uptake of broadband was the call for optic fiber deployment across the length and breadth of the continent.A highlight of the formal opening was the Press launch of ITU’s regional report, "African Telecommunication/ICT Indicators 2008: At a Crossroads". Following booming growth in the mobile telephony sector – which saw 65 million new subscribers in 2007- and an encouraging investment climate spurring economic development in the region, Africa is a continent on the move: the theme for ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2008.

That’s quite a challenge from the GVF. If I’m still around in 2012, I’ll do a follow-up post.

Look, I remember a forecast in June of 2001, by a market research company, that an addtional 500 geosynchronous satellites will be needed to satisfy demand.  Nearly 7 years later, I don’t see expansion of that magnitude.