Continuous infrastructure developments taking place in Africa have often been blamed for frequent fibre-optic cable cuts that cause temporary Internet outages.
This has affected operations of various businesses that rely on the Internet, calling for satellite technology which is less susceptible to such outages.
Early last year, cable cuts caused Internet outages that affected businesses across East Africa after construction crews and vandals cut Kenya’s core inland fibre-optic link on the Mombasa-Nairobi route.
This year, a number of satellite services providers such as YahSat appear to have stepped up plans to roll out satellite Internet across Africa, offering uninterruptible Internet connectivity.
According to Kevin Viret, the Regional Director Africa for Al Yah Satellite Communications, while launching YahClick services in Uganda this week, as much as there were fibre-optic cables landing at many ports in Uganda, the challenge was that it needed to get inland, a process which comes with disruptions.
“For a country like Uganda that has no coastline, the cable has to be brought inland. So by the time it reaches the rural user, the cost could be up by as much as 18 percent or more,” he said.
YahClick is a next-generation, Ka-band service that performs through the Yahsat Y1B satellite to offer broadband Internet access and related applications to large and small businesses, government agencies and consumers.
According to Internet experts, the technology has some pitfalls, as satellite operators will also encounter numerous challenges including the latest innovations in mobile Internet devices, as users are increasingly looking for flexible networks they can go with to any place.
To the satellite Internet users, the hardware is fixed and does not support mobility unless one is a large media house that has a mobile van to be driven around.
Tom Kamau, an information systems analyst in Kenya, observes that the quality of Internet connectivity has seriously frustrated many Internet users and could also be blamed on the ISPs.
“Many of these complaints stem from the fact the ISP did not deliver on its promise to avail bandwidth to the customer at the subscribed speeds. Other than this, the second most complaint is the lack of proper customer support from the ISP as it becomes evasive in resolving customer issues or explaining what is happening to the customers link,” he explained.
Yahsat however maintains that satellite technology could offer the much-needed solution, which according to Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda’s Minister for ICT, has an expansive geographic reach that can instantly provide connectivity to the underserved and unserved remote regions.
“We expect to avail satellite broadband Internet to consumers and businesses across the Middle East, South West Asia and Africa,” said YahSat chief executive Tareq Abdul Raheem Al Hosani. “The Internet services in the above regions have been unlimited thus we want to offer reliable and high speed Internet connectivity.”