Running a country's businesses on satellite


In today's connected world, with fibre networks implemented between most Africa countries and the build out of fibre networks continuing daily, why even consider satellite as a communication medium?

Simple: Because it works, it's reliable and it is the best cost alternative.

A quick update
As with all technology industries, the satellite industry is in the midst of rapid technology growth and advances in the satellite constellations, the end-user modem equipment and the commercial models. Recently developed High-Throughput-Satellite (HTS) services make it possible to implement corporate data communication networks capable of more than 100Mbps links with full compliance with SAP and other financial applications.

Not only has the data transmission power of satellites multiplied by a factor of 10 or more, the satellite end-user modem equipment now incorporates advanced data processing and IP routing features. These features make it possible to develop advanced end-to-end data circuits which are fully interoperable with Riverbed and other network optimisation tools. Network modems now also have the option to implement Layer2-over-satelllite which provides and alternative network architecture by reducing the satellite circuit integration complexities for network architects.

Collectively, these and a host of other advances, have created the technology platforms to deliver a new level of connectivity via satellite communication channels.

New commercial models

"Technology by itself is meaningless. The goal is to harness technology to open new markets, to improve quality of life, to uplift society and create real value for all."

Technology without feasible commercial models is simply just technology that make for enthusiastic engineering discussions while offering little value to business.

To offer value, you also need acceptable commercial models, and indeed satellite enables some interesting and attractive commercial options for corporate Africa.

Satellite is in principle a distribution technology, meaning you can connect multiple sites to a central HQ. This then means that different sites in the same network can access the same data circuit, enabling service to multiple sites while maintaining one cost base. In this example, only the active site will incur the data costs. This results in a "pay-per-use" only option that makes it very attractive for users to secure the benefit of redundancy services while paying for it only when used.

Other options available allow enterprise customers to share backhaul redundancy costs between multiple operations, or even between multiple countries. This creates a type of "best-of-both-worlds" scenario whereby businesses have the benefit of high capacity, high reliability services while paying only when needed.

Putting it in action
Q-KON recently had the opportunity to demonstrate exactly this model and its performance and cost advantages to a leading financial institution with operations throughout Africa. Even with full regional redundant fibre network implemented, the customer still experienced country black-outs due to some common network elements. While fibre and other network solutions are available, these are linked to a substantial fixed monthly cost.

Q-KON implemented a C-band regional backhaul network solution operating on leading modem technology. The network provides 100Mbps layer 2 services to the regional data centres and has successfully demonstrated full country operations over satellite. The satellite circuit was seamlessly integrated with the core IP network to ensure full compliance of all applications and financial services.

Summary
With this demonstrated business performance, the native resilience and high availability of satellite, integrated with "pay-per-use" cost models, corporate Africa has a new and attractive connectivity option.