ESA title

Broadband Africa

  • ACTIVITYDemonstration Project
  • STATUSOngoing
  • THEMATIC AREAInfrastructure & Smart Cities

Objectives of the service

The Broadband Africa service provides Internet in a pay as you go format to customers in Africa, to permit them to flexibly choose the capacity, the connection speed in both transmission and reception, and the duration of the service.

It offers a new generation of satellite services introducing the following innovations:

  • Allowing the end user to create his/her own service design in terms of speed, volume and duration, he/she is able to cover his/her specific needs, whatever they are, including backhaul of terrestrial link;
  • Allowing the end-user to buy directly their service, to pay it by mobile money for instant availability;
  • This flexibility of the service allows everyone to adapt the level of service to their individual needs and financial capabilities;

Users and their needs

Market investigations, including information from our current Afrique Telecom service of the prepaid card for satellite links, revealed that:

  • Existing solutions do not correctly cover all potential sectors of the market; they particularly do not cover specific requests;
  • The prepaid service offer that we established does no longer correspond to the market demand, requiring more flexibility;
  • The cost of the satellite terminal is a limitation for the exploitation of the “consumer broadband” market.

The pilot service included in the demonstration will be deployed in three African countries: Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon.

There are three types of customer groups involved in the project:

  • Consumer broadband - Individuals at home;

These customers need high speed and low prices.

Traditional VSAT models are too expensive for them

  • Backup & events - Companies who need backup or one-time access;

These companies want to secure their access to the Internet and, to be sure to have 100% access, they want to have a backup solution on top of the terrestrial links.

Others look for one-time access at office, or occasionally outside the office.

  • Professional users

These customers need:

  • High data speed because they might have many users in their network
  • Quality connectivity without any cut
  • Low prices
  • Flexibility.

Service/ system concept

The following service components are being developed, integrated and demonstrated: 

  • Voucher-based Services, to provide pay-as-you-go schemes. They allow the users to choose speed and volume of data and a time interval up to 12 months for the consumption.
  • Automatic Payment Services, which are necessary to manage large number of transactions with low Average Revenue Per Unit (ARPU) per terminal, as highly anticipated in the African market.
  • Ka-band Services, for the provision of high-data rate services to a subset of the pilot sites via the Ka-band beams of the HYLAS 4 satellite of Avanti deployed over Africa.
  • White label, in order to allow Internet service providers in Africa to establish their own branding.

The Figure below provides an overview of the Broadband Africa service architecture

Space Added Value

The space asset used during the pilot demonstration is the satellite capacity from Avanti’s Hylas 4, Newtec ground segment hardware, Afrique Telecom’s network management system, VSATs and modems installed at the end users.

The choice of using the Hylas 4 satellite for this project is justified by:

  • Eligibility for customers: the large satellite coverage over Africa permits to address a larger market than possible with any other technology.
  • High availability of the satellite: more than 99.5% availability is the best we can provide in Africa compared to any other technology.
  • Dynamic bandwidth allocation: the satellite provider permits to dynamically allocate the capacity; this is a huge advantage for non-permanent access solutions like backup.

Current Status

The demonstration project started in January 2019. The Design Review took place in May 2019.

Following the installation of the pilot trial sites for the customer group “Back-up and Events”, the Site Acceptance Test has been held in July 2019, kicking off the related pilot trials. The site installations for the other two customer groups will take place in July and August 2019; the related pilot trials will start in August and September 2019. 

The conclusion of the pilot trials is planned for end November 2019, to be followed by the Final Review in December 2019.

Prime Contractor(s)

Status Date

Updated: 26 September 2019