For now, fibre will remain the primary means of building communication
networks, once installed fibre networks enable reliable broadband and
corporate networks. The challenge is to get it installed, and while you are
waiting for your fibre connection, the choices are LTE or satellite.
Most network architects won’t actually consider satellite as an option. For
them, the only alternative is LTE. The reason satellite is not considered an
alternative is mainly due to bad past experiences and personal perceptions
fuelled by old information or hearsay. The satellite industry is a very
specialised and niche industry and hence not part of the mainstream tech
publications and info channels. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that just
because you don’t know about the latest satellite technologies that it that
it won’t work and is not an alternative.
The latest satellite solutions developed on High-Throughput-Satellites like
the Intelsat EPIC range provide compelling cases in terms of cost and
performance for “off-grid” services. When your business operation is
“off-grid” and not connected to the fibre networks, or you need an on-demand
service, then these latest satellite platforms can bridge the gap.
LTE vs Satellite
Since LTE, or other fixed wireless services, are generally considered the
only alternative, we will position satellite vs LTE to provide reference and
understanding. This analysis is based on real customer case studies and
actual satellite network deployments.
Cost. Surprisingly, satellite is not more expensive than 3G or LTE. Rain
currently advertises fixed LTE services at 5c/MB or R50/GB. The Q-KON
Twoobii service provides fixed-fee (uncapped) options at typically R45/GB
with the added advantage that it is not capped.
Coverage. For LTE and fixed wireless services, site feasibility work must
be completed to ensure that the location is within signal coverage and that
the site deployment is feasible. This complicates the project costing and
planning for large deployments. The Twoobii satellite service, based on HTS, is literally available everywhere; no signal variation, no need for
different dish sizes, with all the locations at the same spec.
Installation costs. The satellite solution still needs a 1,2m dish
installation, which can be more complicated than an LTE installation. For
this reason, specialist satellite service providers like Q-KON have
developed a network of field partners and we can offer a fixed fee (R3300)
for installations anywhere in South Africa with an equipment charge of
Currently, the satellite networks provide 10Mbps / 3Mbps data rates,
which is lower than LTE services in good coverage. At the same time, 10Mbps
is very much a workable option for most business data applications.
Reliability. There is no other technology that can meet the reliability of
satellite services. Customer use cases have demonstrated 99,98% uptime over
an installed base of 4500 sites and a 4 year period. These are impressive
statistics and very difficult for any terrestrial-based technology to meet.
For business-critical applications such as point-of-sale, there is simply no
other alternative than satellite.
Recent developments in the satellite industry have positioned satellite
products like Twoobii as a perfect alternative for “off-grid” business
communication. While satellite will never be positioned to be a primary
alternative for fibre networks, it is certainly an attractive business case
for “off-grid” operations and on-demand use cases.
In May 2019, MyBroadband posted an article that quoted Telkom CEO Sipho
Maseko saying that Telkom recently developed a roadmap concerning the
proactive migration of customers to newer infrastructure. “We are hoping
that in the next five years we would have exited copper entirely,” Maseko
said. This means that if it is successful with its plan, Telkom’s
operational network would primarily be comprised of mobile, LTE, and fibre
At the same press event, Maseka continued to say that the company’s
fixed-broadband subscriber base – which includes ADSL and FTTH customers –
decreased by 13.8% to 847,650 over the period and added that Telkom’s fixed
LTE customer base now represents more than its historical peak ADSL user
base. Interesting statistics, and indeed a fine achievement from a
technology growth and future-ready strategy perspective.
Can LTE & Fibre replace ADSL?
From various press comments, we understand that Telkom’s aim is not merely
to replace its aging ADSL infrastructure. Telkom is striving to implement an
upgraded service and enable a wider digital economy. To provide this, a LTE
network will typically operate with a range of 600m – 1km in service.
For over 25 years, Q-KON has provided wireless and satellite solutions
across the African continent. Helping businesses harness technology for
growth, gain access to new markets, and uplift communities, Q-KON has
established an extensive pan-African implementation and delivery capability.
Q-KON believes that technology in itself is meaningless, rather focusing on
how the right solutions can fill the connectivity gaps across the continent
in order to improve people’s day-to-day lives – in business and in general.
The company has completed projects in over 40 countries throughout Africa,
has service partners in over 20 countries, and is well established in the
Q-KON’s solutions provide major advantages for customers, including:
* efficiency, enabled by experience and technology
* guaranteed high speed network access, regardless of location
* tangible results, leading to improved operations
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