By Emmanuel Elebeke
As the wave of technology revolution sweeps across the coast of African continent, particularly with the landing of Glo and Main One fibre optic cables, and now waiting for full deployment into the nooks and crannies of the country to accelerate internet service, most service providers are beginning to jettison satellite network and paying attention only on broadband as the only way to go.
In this interview withÂ the Director of strategic marketing, Gilat networks limited, one of the leading provider of products and professional services for satellite-based broadband communications networks worldwide, Mr. Robert Bell speaks on the importance of sate based- broadband network service and why the two should not be mistaken as alternative to each otherÂ and why both network must co-existÂ for efficient network coverage.
What is satellite broadband network all about?
The ideal satellite broadband networkÂ is using satellite medium for communicating between different sites in different locations, even if there is no terrestrial infrastructure, whereÂ there is no copper, cable, fibre or cellular network coverage. One good thing about this service is that any place across the globe where you can point the satellite up to the sky, you can get communication.
It is good for organizations for enterprises andÂ government who deploy it equipment in the rural areas and needs to connect all its equipments through an IT Central data base. It is also using satellite to communicate for high speed broadband connections, local voice, broadband, internet, email, applications, video conference, sap ear piece systems, over satellite.
Is there any difference between broadband and satellite networks?
Satellite provides communication everywhere across the globe. In fact, it broadens the connectivity to many remote areas where there could be many countries around the continent. Fibre on its own, is an infrastructure for delivering high speed traffic from one point to another.
These two go together. Sometimes, there is a misconception by some people thatÂ fibre is an alternative to satellite, but it is not true. Rather,Â the two go together very well on a high speed communications. The satellite distributes information to many sites around and some people mistake this to be fibre when it is not.
With broadband spreading very quickly to Africa, they take it to be alternative to satellite but it is wrong to think that way. The truthÂ is that,Â it enhances satellite so that communications can be delivered to more sites at high speed via satellite. Therefore, it is better to say that these two technologies work together to create very solid and high performed network for the African continent.
What about the inefficiency of satellite broadcasting. Donâ€™t you think this will tell on theÂ productivity ofÂ satellite broadband networks?
This is quite interesting. Yes, but one thing about satellite is that, it occupies space. When there is rain for example, the signal level coming from the satellite is affected. Today, we have a mechanism that can adapt to the effects of bad weather.
That is the type of modulation, the typeÂ translating digital information into frequencies and changes that occurred in the conditions of the weather. This mechanism can very well overcome the effects of the weather, making sure that communication is always on. When there is rain, the effect it could have is to slow down the availability of the traffic but with this device, the speed will even beÂ increased, using this mechanism. That is using technology to overcome this unavoidable situation of rain affecting the signals.
Donâ€™t you see the ongoing deployment of sub-marine cables across Nigeria and other Africa countries as a challenge?
This notionÂ is actually conceived from the negative side. The high sea cables coming to Nigeria and other African countries are bringing high speed internet services to the continent. It is bringing highÂ capacity of bandwidth to the continent too. What we do is to distribute high speed traffic through the continent, using satellite. So, the fact is thatÂ in the past many companies tried using satellite to bring internet to African continent.
It is not the right way to work. It makes more sense to do it through the under sea fibre cable and then distribute with satellite. In fact, there is always a need for more communication which satellite network can provide, broadband cannot do. The good news is that the under sea cable is bringing in more data and internet to the continent and IÂ think the continent will benefit most since there is more availability for distributing this services to the rural sites through satellite.
It does not harm but make more opportunities for delivering more satellite communication to the end user who need this communication.
Q. Do you think Nigerian market is actually ready for this service?
The market is in very high need of communication. The economy as you knowÂ is growing andÂ there is need for high speed application to accelerate the speed of growth. The availability of terrestrial infrastructure is a need that must be met. For satellite, Nigeria is a good potential market with a lot of opportunities to improve by adding satellite based solutions in order to meet the demand.