Intelsat plans broadband over Africa by November from new satellite

Intelsat has launched a broadband satellite that is due to provide digital data services to mobile and fixed operators in Africa by November.

The Intelsat 33e, the second in the company’s Epic series, will provide backhaul as well as cloud services to operators, as well as extensions to networks beyond the reach of current microwave and fibre networks.

“We are working with a number of mobile operators, including Bharti Airtel, Etisalat, MTN, Orange, Safaricom, Telkom and Vodacom,” Intelsat CEO Steve Spengler told Capacity. “This will enable then to extend their networks into rural communities.”

The satellite is gradually being moved into a geosynchronous orbit following launch earlier this week so that all its beams can be tested. “It is performing very well,” said Spengler.

The first of this series of broadband satellites went into service over the Americas earlier in 2016. Intelsat plans seven satellites in all, including a joint venture with Jsat due to cover the Pacific Rim.

“Satellites’ role is not to compete with fibre or wireless solutions,” said Spengler. “Where fibre is available it is a good thing, but the challenge is to bring it to remote places. We are working with mobile operators, fixed operators and corporate network service providers.”