O3b to supply connectivity to South Sudan

Satellite provider O3b Networks is to provide next-generation satellite services to South Sudan as part of a deal with African ISP RCS-Communication.

The move is said to provide fibre-like connectivity speeds to approximately 300,000 people in and around the Sudanese capital of Juba, an area which previously had limited broadband services.

The partnership comes one month after the successful launch of O3b’s first four satellites into equatorial Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana.

The deal is hoped to help bolster telecoms capabilities in the world’s newest country, South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in July 2011.

Flippie Odendal, MD at RCS-Communication, said: “Though fibre options are being considered for South Sudan, we do not currently have fibre connectivity in country. Our WiMAX network in Juba connects to the internet backbone via geostationary satellite solutions which are reliable, but when compared to fibre offers latency challenges.”

It is hoped that the deal will help to stimulate economic growth and social development in the oil-rich region which earlier this year announced it was considering connecting subterranean fibre-optic cables to east Africa in a bid to reduce the high cost of internet use.

Omar Trujillo, Regional VP of Africa & Latam at O3b, said: “High-speed data communications have the potential to accelerate economic growth supporting entrepreneurship and multinational commerce. We are proud to provide RCS with connectivity to enable the growth of the new nation of South Sudan.”

It is hoped that the strategic placement of these satellites will primarily address cost efficiency in emerging markets, helping developing nations to build 3G networks.

The latest move follows last month’s agreement between O3b and Malaysian telecommunications provider, Maju Nusa, as well agreements with Telecom Cook Islands and Skynet Colombia last year.