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Digital Inclusion

Intelsat Offers 2G Service for Remote Areas

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Satellite operator Intelsat has launched a new service that enables mobile operators to extend their 2G coverage into remote areas in sub-Saharan Africa.

In partnership with site installation services specialist BCom and network technology supplier Newtec, Intelsat has developed a managed service, called IntelsatOne Mobile Reach Solar 2G. It is a turnkey solution, comprising all satellite, power and cellular elements (including a solar-powered cell site), that enables mobile operators to offer 2G services in hard-to-reach areas.

The service integrates Intelsat satellite services with Newtec's Dialog multiservice satellite communications platform and BCom's backhaul terminal solution and network deployment capabilities.

While 2G mobile might now be considered a basic service in many parts of the world, it is the dominant cellular connectivity option in Africa, with more than 672 million people across the continent relying on 2G services to stay connected.

"Satellite is fundamental to improving connectivity coverage in rural areas," and is "especially relevant for the African continent," stated Jean-Philippe Gillet, VP and general manager for broadband at Intelsat. "Now that smaller, more portable kits can be used with our high power Intelsat Epic platform, connecting those communities will become easier and more cost-effective," he added.

Semir Hassanaly, market director for cellular backhaul and trunking at Newtec, added: "Assembling a turnkey solution was essential for rapidly deploying managed mobile services in Africa, where so many communities are isolated. The combination of HTS [high-throughput services] and the Newtec Dialog platform … provides the flexibility and the lowest operational costs to make mobile connectivity affordable even for remote communities. The technology can also be upgraded to offer higher order services."

Patrick Elias, BCom's sales and operations director, chipped in: "Our goal is to design a solution that is easy to deploy, that fits each community with basic 2G GSM services and [to] cover a larger area or population in a very cost-effective way based on a pay-as-you-grow model."

— The staff, Connecting Africa<

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Micro and small businesses have been, and still are, the spine and lifeblood of the African economy, making up 90% of businesses on the continent.

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