Why EUTELSAT unveils ‘KONNECT AFRICA’ brand for satellite broadband

18Nov 2016
Daniel Limbe
The Guardian
Why EUTELSAT unveils ‘KONNECT AFRICA’ brand for satellite broadband

This week in Cape Town during Africacom 2016 event, Eutelsat Communications (NYSE Euronext Paris: ETL) one of the world's leading satellite operators, launched the so called ‘Konnect Africa’ brand,

Director of Marketing and Business Development at Eutelsat-Broadband4Africa, François Boullete.

which has marked a change in scope of the ‘Broadband for Africa’ venture set up to galvanise the market for satellite broadband services in Sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania included.

In an exclusive telephone interview with The Guardian from Cazpetown-South Africa, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Eutelsat - Broadband4Africa, François Boullete, said “This is a renewed effort to bridge the digital divide.”

He further noted: “A new identity for Eutelsat’s satellite broadband venture in advance of commercial launch of services in 2017.”

Boullete told this paper that the launch was an initiative that reflected Eutelsat’s ambition to accelerate satellite broadband connectivity across the African continent.

“The initiative aims to become one of the leading suppliers of new-generation services, working in close partnership with African partners to promote high-quality broadband at affordable prices for homes and businesses, and contributing to reducing the digital divide on the continent,” he explained.

The ‘Konnect Africa’ brand and new slogan, ‘Taking Broadband Further’, have been devised to reflect Eutelsat’s ambition to accelerate satellite broadband connectivity across the African continent. With a 20 strong team located in key African markets and in Europe, Konnect Africa aims to become one of the leading suppliers of new-generation services, working in close partnership with African partners to promote high-quality broadband at affordable prices for homes and businesses, and contributing to reducing the digital divide on the continent.

Commercial launch on track for 2017

The new brand is a new milestone in advance of the launch of commercial services that will start to roll-out in 2017, ramping up to cover more than 20 Sub-Saharan countries by 2019.

Konnect Africa’s portfolio of services will be adjusted to the profiles and needs of its partners, to match their position in the value chain: data, mobile or VSAT operators, ISPs and pay-TV platforms that can bundle TV with Internet services. Konnect Africa will offer a complete range of services, from bandwidth supply to end-to-end solutions.

World Bank data demonstrates that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration yielded an additional 1.21 percent in GDP growth in developed economies, while the same increase in emerging economies yielded an additional 1.38 percent in GDP growth. Africa is the world’s second-largest and second most populous continent, so how do we make sure remote areas have the connectivity they need?

Across the continent, new information technologies are rapidly changing the lives of a small but growing number of people. However, for most people, even making a telephone call is still a remote possibility in an era when most of the world is now communicating almost instantly across cities, regions and the globe using wireless and satellite technologies to send high-speed electronic messages.

With the new initiative, Eutelsat aims at working together with the public and private sector to help increase reach and access to broadband services across both urban and rural Africa.

The challenge of Broadband in Sub-Saharan Africa

There is a clear need for broadband across Sub-Saharan Africa. Both end-users and African telecom players have a need for a reliable and affordable broadband infrastructure.

At present, fibre deployment is in progress (backbone and Fiber-To-The-Home [FTTH]), but this is largely limited to the larger cities and built up areas. Fibre provides a high quality of service when deployed. However, it remains difficult and costly to roll out.

Furthermore, fibre will not reach the more rural areas. 341 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa live beyond a 50km range of fibre. This is greater than the population of the United States (324 million).
A mix of technologies is therefore required, including fibre, 3G/4G and satellite solutions

Benefits of broadband

Satellite provides a quality, affordable and immediate solution, which can be adapted to both private and public needs. Satellite based broadband provides national coverage with a homogeneous quality of service. Each location that is covered can benefit from the installation of a satellite link that offers the same service quality in sub-urban and rural areas.

The Economic Impact of Broadband

According to the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, ‘Broadband is not just a consequence of economic growth, it is also a cause’.

The positive impact of broadband as a driver for economic growth cannot be disputed. In a world that is increasingly reliant on information and the ability to communicate, broadband is critical.
A clear relationship exists between the penetration and presence of broadband and economic growth – the two are correlated.

Vision and Mission

“Konnect Africa will be the leading player in providing state-of-the-art satellite broadband solutions to its partners.” Konnect Africa’s ambition is to boost social and economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa by providing affordable broadband connectivity everywhere thus reducing the digital divide
Konnect Africa enables high quality and high availability broadband solutions at affordable prices by working hand in hand with its local African partners.

The Konnect Africa 5-year development plan is built on 2 phases: Phase 1: Start of Konnect Africa operations over key regions as soon as Q2 2017. And phase 2: Dedicated HTS satellite, to be launched in 2019.

Post-5-Years, Konnect Africa is considering the upcoming VHTS technology to further increase the performance and economics of satellite broadband. The BB4Africa infrastructure can enable the full range of broadband services.

Eutelsat Communications

Established in 1977, Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris) is one of the world's leading and most experienced operators of communications satellites. The company provides capacity on 38 satellites to clients that include broadcasters and broadcasting associations, pay-TV operators, video, data and Internet service providers, enterprises and government agencies.

Eutelsat’s satellites provide ubiquitous coverage of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, enabling video, data, broadband and government communications to be established irrespective of a user’s location.

Headquartered in Paris, with offices and teleports around the globe, Eutelsat represents a workforce of 1,000 men and women from 37 countries that are experts in their fields and work with clients to deliver the highest quality of service.