The Head, Customer Services at the iWay Africa office in Kenya, Mr. Tom Makau has said that the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) remains the cheapest access to internet technology.
This came as iWay Africa unveiled its FiberSAT in Lagos.
Speaking at the Information Access and Collaboration conference organised by iWayAfrica Nigeria Ltd in partnership with NetApp, in Lagos, Mr. Makau said that VSAT still offers unrivaled reliability over any other access technologies.
“No technology offers higher uptime than VSAT,” he asserted, stressing that even in the most wired markets, VSAT’s offer better value proposition to security minded organizations.
“VSAT offers the only remaining true private networks,” he declared.
He said that despite cheap terrestrial connectivity in the United States (US) and European Union (EU), VSAT is still popular in these regions.
Makau pointed out that why the likes of Camelot and United States Postal Service (USPS) still use VSAT, was due to its advantages, noting that HughesNet VSAT customer distribution in North America, indicated that Hughes has over 800,000 VSAT sites in USA, mainly in the urban areas, attributing it to the fact that VSAT offers reliability and value for money.
This, he said, has demystified the myth that VSAT is an access method for only the rural areas.
Equally, Makau, who spoke on ‘VSAT is dead?” said that what would make broadband affordable, depends entirely on pricing, which has remained relatively high in Africa due to high Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) and Operating Expenditure (OPEX) based on infrastructure on the continent.
Some Internet Service Providers (ISPs), he noted, have tried to emulate US and EU pricing without considering some historical facts, which resulted in their offering poor services as they struggle to stay afloat.
For African ISPs to offer lower prices without compromising service quality, three things must happen, these, he listed to include that Africa must develop and host local content locally and applications, citing the likes of NetApp and Telkom’s cybernest as some of the data centres available to the continent.
The second outline, he said, is that the market must provide critical numbers needed to take advantage of economies of scale, stressing that currently Africa is scored 5.4 per cent out of the 23 percentage drawn from the global penetration rates.
Lastly, he said, that regulatory environment needs to be fair to operators and cited another instance with the cost of Third Generation (3G) license in Kenya, which cost about $20 million, while in Finland it is free.
He further pointed out that the African Internet market is unique because of largely absence of electricity power supply at various countries across the continent, insisting that unless this situation changes, penetration would remain poor.
In addition, he said that internet contents are hosted everywhere else apart from Africa.
For him, VSAT advantages include that it offers ubiquitous, instant coverage over large
geographical areas with uniform service deployment.
“VSAT offers faster deployment than other business quality technologies,” he said, even as it is more cost effective than terrestrial systems as its bundled with bandwidth and lower total cost of ownership to name a few.
Part of VSAT, Makau said, is that it’s a fully managed, single point of contact network technology; rarely do VSAT have third party involvement, while it offers broadcast capability such as digital signage and educational programmes.
“VSATs are generally more reliable than terrestrial lines, hence it has higher uptime and less points of failure with faster recovery,” Makau submitted.
Also speaking on the latest brand launch by iWay Africa, which is now a subsidiary of Telkom Group, the General Manager, iWay Africa Nigeria Limited, Mr. John Ugbe, said noted that the firm started operations in Nigeria in 2003 as MWEB Nigeria.
“MWEB acquired iWayAfrica in 2008 and the Nigeria operations were merged in iWayAfrica Nigeria Limited,” he said, with presence in over 30 African countries.
iWay Africa, he said, is the largest VSAT broadband provider in Africa which is deployed as Comsys, thus providing services to over 60,000 corporate subscribers, VSAT availability nationwide as well as six channel partners and staff in major cities.
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