Eutelsat Puts Africa Broadband Programme Back on Track

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Emma Okonji

Eutelsat Communications and Yahsat, the Abu Dhabi-based international satellite operator, have signed a multi-year capacity agreement that will boost broadband development in Africa, and provide access to high-performance commercial Ka-band capacity for broadband services across sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the terms of the agreement Broadband for Africa will use capacity of up to 16 Ka-band spotbeams on the Yahsat 1B satellite in order to roll out broadband services during the first half of 2017. Further expansion will be supported later in the year using capacity on 18 spotbeams on Yahsat’s Al Yah 3 satellite, scheduled for launch in early 2017. Both Yahsat 1B and Al Yah 3 are equipped with high power spotbeams with Sub-Saharan African coverage, ideal for community and Direct-to-User Internet access using affordable, off-the-shelf customer premises equipment.

For Eutelsat, the capacity will replace the payload previously contracted on the Amos-6 satellite which was lost in September following a launch pad explosion. The African Broadband service will be launched during the first four months of 2017, thereby enabling Eutelsat to revert to its initial business plan where it contributed immensely to broadband development.

The Chief Executive Officer of Broadband for Africa, Laurent Grimaldi, said: “We are delighted to initiate this relationship with Yahsat and to put our Africa broadband programme back on track. We fully share Yahsat’s conviction in the long-term role satellites will play in wireless connectivity and in the need for high-quality infrastructure to transform Africa’s broadband landscape.”

The Chief Strategy Officer of Yahsat, Amit Somani, said: “We believe it is important for us to collaborate with our industry peers to drive our common goal of connecting individuals, businesses and governments around the world with affordable and reliable broadband services. We are delighted to have Broadband for Africa as a long-term customer on our satellites, laying yet another cornerstone in our expansion strategy and reinforcing the global trend towards higher efficiency Ka-band solutions.”

Set up by Eutelsat in 2015, Broadband for Africa will develop the vast untapped market for consumer and enterprise connectivity and address community networks connected to Wi-Fi hotspots as well as mobile phone backhauling and rural connectivity. The venture has also invested in a standalone high-capacity broadband satellite for launch in 2019 that will boost and complement the services to be supplied through the agreement with Yahsat.

Broadband for Africa aims to be the leading player in providing state-of-the-art satellite broadband solutions to its partners. Working hand-in-hand with local African partners Broadband for Africa will help reduce the digital divide by offering high-quality and high-availability broadband solutions for consumers, enterprises and the public sector.