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Digital Inclusion

Uganda Teams with Intelsat, ITSO and MTN to Accelerate 3G Rollout in Rural Areas

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PRESS RELEASE -- Luxembourg, Uganda -- Intelsat S.A. (NYSE: I), operator of the world’s first Globalized Network and leader in integrated satellite solutions, announced that Uganda’s Communications Commission (UCC) will utilize Intelsat satellite services and Gilat Satellite Network’s ground infrastructure to advance the deployment of 3G wireless communications infrastructure and expand high quality, affordable broadband access for businesses and communities in rural areas of Uganda.

Under a pilot program, the UCC will use IntelsatOne Mobile Reach Solar 3G satellite services delivered via the Intelsat 37e satellite and Gilat’s SkyEdge II-c multi-application platform to provide high-quality, resilient and affordable broadband connectivity to two communities – Bufundi in Rubanda and Kibuku in Ntoroko. The improved performance, efficiency and lower total cost of ownership delivered by Intelsat 37e, the fifth of the Intelsat EpicNG satellites and one of three serving Africa, will enable Uganda to quickly and seamlessly extend broadband connectivity to rural areas of the country in a cost-efficient manner.

The objective of the remote connectivity project is to demonstrate the ease of deploying the satellite solution and study the commercial viability and sustainability of the solution. This effort will be instrumental in helping to accelerate the Uganda government’s broadband strategy, particularly its goal of achieving minimum broadband speeds of 3 Mbps and coverage of 100 percent of Uganda’s rural areas by 2020.

Committed to working with member states to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) played a critical role in coordinating efforts and bringing the private and public entities together to benefit the two communities in Uganda.

“Extending broadband connectivity and delivering fast, affordable Internet services to everyone in Uganda remains one of the Uganda government’s primary missions,” said Godfrey Mutabazi, Executive Director of the Uganda Communications Commission. “With more than 80 percent of our population living in rural areas, this has been a technological and budgetary challenge. With this combined effort and the innovative approach the companies are bringing, we believe citizens in some of our most isolated communities will experience the power of reliable connectivity and the economic and social benefits it delivers.”

Mobile Reach Solar 3G, part of the IntelsatOne portfolio of managed and terrestrial services, is an end-to-end, solar-powered managed solution powered by Gilat cellular solutions, for mobile network operators (MNOs) who want to expand their service footprint efficiently into ultra-rural regions where traditional network buildouts are uneconomical. Under the partnership, Intelsat oversees the space segment, traffic configuration and project management, while Gilat Satellite Network supplies, installs, and maintains the ground network infrastructure. This results in a turnkey, solar-powered package that provides everything an MNO needs to expand 3G service over a 2.5-kilometer radius, including power supply, mono-pole, and all satellite and cellular equipment. For the pilot project, MTN Uganda will integrate the sites into the core network.

“Satellite services have been at the core of communications networks throughout Africa for decades, but too many people in rural areas remain unconnected,” said Intelsat CEO, Stephen Spengler. “We continue to improve the technology in space and throughout the delivery ecosystem to make it easier to access satellite connectivity. But simply improving technology is not enough to trigger the widespread expansion of networks. The entire telecommunications sector needs to make it simpler to integrate all technologies into a seamless network to truly overcome the challenges that network operators and governments face. New business models such as IntelsatOne Mobile Reach will truly solve the cost and deployment problems associated with reaching rural populations and be the tipping point in the effort to support economic growth, deliver life-changing services, and connect all of Africa.”

Intelsat CEO Steve Spengler (left) participates in the inauguration ceremony for the 3G rural coverage scheme in Uganda.
Intelsat CEO Steve Spengler (left) participates in the inauguration ceremony for the 3G rural coverage scheme in Uganda.

“ITSO is strongly committed to working closely with its member states to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals of 2030”, said Patrick Masambu, Director-General of ITSO. “Our hope with this pilot project is that it will not only succeed at the Bufundi and Kibuku sites, but it could be expanded throughout Uganda and further replicated in other ITSO member states. We plan to organize and fund a training event that highlights the benefits of satellite technology in Uganda and invite other member states to witness the benefits this project on-site.”

“At MTN, extending the footprint of our network and services to ensure that we connect more people has been and remains a high priority for our company”, said Gordon Kyomukama, Chief Technical Officer, MTN. “As part of our dual data strategy, we seek new and innovative methods to efficiently expand our network to rural areas because we believe that every society deserves to be connected. In doing so, we leverage all technologies at our disposal and in this proof of concept, we have partnered with the UCC, Gilat, Intelsat and ITSO to offer a greater broadband experience. Today, we are bringing broadband connectivity to two rural communities and fulfilling our mission—to brighten the lives of customers that we serve.”

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