Continents with expansive landmasses and burgeoning populations require supportive, interactive communication between governments and third-party providers for those populations to attain lifestyles of note. And no more so than for the citizens of Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Central and South America effective communication in these regions of the world is no longer a dream, but more and more a reality.
As technologies continue to improve living standards, third world populations are being coaxed into millions of new customers. Their village is no longer the boundary of their lives the entire world has suddenly been opened to them, thanks to the capabilities of satellite communications and its attendant technologies.
As of mid-October, 2008, The U.S. Census Bureaus World POPClock Projection indicates the total World population is 6,731,607,699. Internet penetration, worldwide, according to Internet World Stats is 21.9 percent and usage growth from 2000 to 2008 is 305.5 percent. The following chart, courtesy of Internet World Stats, reveals the estimated populations of the seven continents as well as the Internet access percentages for those regions of the world.
CARIBBEAN + LATIN AMERICA
Definitions can be confusing is Central America the same as Latin America and/or South America? For those not residing or working in this region of the world, the fine line when researching statistics to help build a business plan can cause shrugged shoulders. Generally speaking, Central and South America comprise Latin America. All of the countries in Latin America speak Spanish, save for Brazil, where Portuguese is the national language. Think of South America as the large landmass south of Panama, while Central America is comprised of the countries north of Colombia and includes the islands of the Caribbean. The term Latin America encompasses Central and South America.
Internet World Stats has the combined population (as of June of 2008) of the Caribbean, Central, and South America as about 576 million. Compared to the rest of the world, South America has an above average Internet penetration of 27.1 percent, as opposed to the rest of the world at 21.6 percent (as of the second quarter of 2008, analyzed by Miniwatts Marketing Group). However, when it comes to the actual number of South American Internet users, that currently rests at 7.1 percent, while the remainder of the world averages 92.9 percent usage.
In the Caribbean (26 countries), with 0.6 percent of the worlds population, Internet penetration is hovering around the 17.3 percent mark for a population estimated at just over 40 million. The greatest usage of the Internet occurs in Antigua and Barbuda, with 85.9 percent penetration, while the least active are the Monserrat, the Turks and Calicos islands, and Cuba, with little to no Internet use whatsoever. Usage growth? How about a whopping 1,143.5 percent!
Central Americas (eight countries) statistics reveal the highest Internet usage is in Costa Rica (perhaps due to all of the ex-pats moving to that country), with the least usage being in Nicaragua. Theres a total region-wide penetration of 18.5 percent for their 151+ million populations and a use growth of 770.7 percent.
Of South Americas (14 countries) nearly 385 million residents, 27.1 percent account for the Internet market penetration, with the Falkland Islands at the highest rate of 76.5 percent mark, and Paraguay accounting for 3.8 percent. For the countries comprising this region of the world, the use growth is 627.9 percent. In comparison, North America, with 73.6 percent of the population using the Internet, the growth rate was a healthy, but far less significant, 129.6 percent.
According to Internet World Stats, the 2008 estimate regarding Africas population (the second largest of our planets seven continents, comprised of 57 countries) is, give or take, approximately 955 million who speak at least 2,000 distinctive languages. You may well look at the Internet Users in Africa chart and note a slim 3.5 percent usage thats currently only about 33 million or so folk currently online. With a little more than 14 percent of the worlds population, Africas penetration as a percentage of the population is 5.3 percent, but a most significant statistic is the use growth from 2000 to 2008 being 1,032.2 percent!
Comprised of 14 nations, the total population ranges in the 197 million range, and accounts for 2.9 percent of the worlds Internet use. Penetration in the Middle East hovers just above 21 percent. With 52 percent Internet penetration, Israel leads the list of countries, with Iraq at 0.2 percent and Yemen at 1.4 percent penetration. For the entire Middle East, the average penetration percentage is 21.3 percent, with user growth for 2000 to 2008 ranging in at 1,176.8 percent.
Reviewing the stats certainly leads one to a most interesting conclusion the business potentials are enormous! Yes, there are geographic and geopolitical challenges to overcome. However, with growth rates in MENA and South America in excess of 500 percent and, in many cases, more than 1,000 percent growth over an eight-year period of time, those companies who are able to provide a fairly priced solution will find consumers at the ready for such offerings. In fact, clients and customers will knock, if not pound, on your door.
- All statistics updated for June 30, 2008
- Population numbers are based on U.S. Census Bureau data
- Bermuda is included with the North American countries, according to the United Nations Statistical Divisionnot included in this report
- Mexico is included with the Central American countries, according to the UNs Statistical Division listings
- The most recent usage information is derived mainly from data published by Nielsen/NetRatings, ITU, and other reliable sources
Our thanks to Internet World Stats for their population and Internet usage statistics. You can learn more at their website just follow this link
Lets review some of the business being conducted in these areas of the globe.
EADS ASTRIUM completed their in-orbit tests of ARABSATs BADR-6 satellite, and the satellite officially became part of the Companys fleet at 26° E. The launch occurred on July 7th. BADR-6s payload is comprised of 44 active C- and Ku-band transponders and provides the largest coverage area offered by ARABSAT, with the key target being DTH service offerings.
Theres a new comsat scheduled to serve the pan-African market, thanks to an agreement signed between Arianespace and Thales Alenia Space. The Service & Solutions contract is for Rascom-QAF 1R, which is planned for a launch in 2010 from Europes Spaceport in French Guiana aboard a Soyuz or Ariane 5 rocket.
This new comsat is part of a turnkey contract with the Regional African Satellite Communication Organization by Thales Alenia Space, with the goal of providing telecom services to rural areas of Africa over 15 years. Additionally, direct TV broadcast and Internet accesses are part of the planned offering. Rascom-QAF 1R is based on the Spacebus 4000B3 platform and will bring in to play 12 Ku- and 8 C-band transponders with 6.4 kW of end-of-life power. The satcom will replace Rascom-QAF 1 and will occupy the orbital slot at 2.85° E.
This companys core business, for more than 50 years has been the delivery of international program services directly to consumers, cable head-ends, as well as broadcasters. Using their U.K. and European teleports, Arqiva is able to deliver 200+ channels to the Middle East and Africa (as well as Europe).
Thanks to Arqivas expansion in the United States, through the acquisition of BTs satellite assets in 2007, the Company has been able to expand coverage throughout Latin America (as well as the Pacific Rim) via their Los Angeles teleport. Moreover, via the Companys own, dedicated fiber network, all of their teleports are securely linked, allowing for global delivery of product. The Director of Occasional Use for Arqiva Satellite and Media is Matthew Ivey, and we caught up with him recently to learn his thoughts regarding these regional market segments. He certainly sees MENA as a vital market.
The Middle East and North Africa are both key markets for the industry today. In particular, Africa has been the largest emerging market in the satellite industry for many years now. This is for various reasons, but primarily due to its lack of connectivity and the fact that it relies heavily on satellite for communication and content distribution.
Despite the fact that some fibre is now springing up in some regions, it is expected that the African market will continue to grow considerably. The second reason is due to its valuable position in the globe. Because of its location, Africa can be served by one of several European satellites. As a result, distribution companies with operations in the U.K. are able to uplink and directly feed the African market from their base if they have the required facilities. In some other countries, this is not the case, and the antennas used are of a low orientation, which means the signal has to be sent via satellite to another provider in that country and then turned around for download via a second satellite. This valuable position also brings benefits to the platforms themselves in Africa as the ability to cut out this turnaround brings reduced costs for them.
When it comes to the challenges for the MENA market, Matthew said, Due to the sheer size of these markets, the main challenge for anyone wishing to service them is having the required infrastructure to uplink and feed directly into the region, in order to provide the content which is in such high demand. In these regions, platforms are driven by a demand for content from abroad, particularly sports, such as football. In order to provide this content, distributors need to have the appropriate infrastructure in place.
Why did Arqiva enter this market in the first place? Arqiva, being a global organization, has the appropriate infrastructure to enter these markets. As a result, the Company has been able to work closely with new Pan-African pay-TV service, GTV. In 2007, GTV launched 18 channels into the Sub-Saharan market. In response to consumer demand, GTV is designed to make premium international and local entertainment content more accessible to more Africans. Arqiva supported the launch and rollout of GTV in multiple markets in Africa and the delivered content is derived from a variety of sources, including Sony, Time Warner, and the African Movie channel. Before the content is broadcast, it needs to undergo basic editing, quality control, technical correction, and normalization. This process is undertaken at Arqivas Chalfont Grove studio facility in the U.K. where transmission master tapes are created through the addition of metadata (including timecodes, tape IDs and program IDs) to support customer-scheduling requirements. Master tapes are ingested and digitized before being played out and digitally archived from the Chalfont Media Centre. Following this initial success, a further 11 channels were launched in June 2008, all in the French language.
As far as the opportunities and challenges for next year in these markets, Matthew added, It is likely that a number of new platforms will launch in these regions over the next year, all of which will need content, both from abroad and potentially some home-grown also. As a result, uplinking facilities will be required, offering a great opportunity for any company able to offer this service into the market.
ASC SIGNAL CORPORATION
The Company produces antennas and RF electronics for enterprise and consumer satcom apps. Their antennas range in size from 45-cm to 9.4-m, with various solutions available for the VSAT and Earth Station antenna markets. ASC Signal is involved with new activities within MENA and South America, The firm just appointed a Dubai and Beirut-based company, MenaNets, to become a master distributor for all of ASCs products in the MENA markets. In addition, to ensure South American coverage, Atlas Sistemas is now the distributor for the company in Brazil and Argentina. ASC Signal also has a presence in Chile, Perú, Columbia, and Venezuela.
C-COM Satellite Systems
An agreement was signed early last month between C-COM and Movilsatcol S.A., based in Bogota, Colombia. The latter will resell the formers iNetVu Mobile antenna system in South America. C-COMs auto-deploying satellite antenna systems fit perfectly with the integrated satellite solutions we provide to the oil and gas, mining and governmental sectors in Latin America said Pat Ostaszewski, General Manager of Movilsatcol S.A. Our professional staff in Bogota is fully certified to engineer, install and support the iNetVu Mobile platforms throughout Latin America.
Eutelsats W2M satellite was part of a dual Eutelsat payload for the most recent Ariane 5 mission, which joined the European telecommunications providers HOT BIRD 9 satellite on the same launch vehicle. W2M was developed by a European-Indian alliance of EADS Astrium and ANTRIX (the commercial arm of ISRO the Indian Space Research Organisation), and will have a lift-off mass of 3,460 kg. The spacecraft is based on ISROs I-3K satellite bus and will have a span of 15.7 meters with solar panels fully deployed. Positioned at an orbital slot of 16° E, W2M will typically operate 26 transponders in Ku-band, and up to 32, depending on operational modes. W2M will be able to deliver a wide range of services from television broadcasting to data networks and broadband with fixed beam coverage of MENA and Europe. The satellites steerable beam can be re-oriented in-orbit according to market requirements, notably towards Africa and central Asia. This was Arianespaces wrap-up flight for 2008. The photo shows the W2M satellite removed from its protective shipping container at Spaceports S5 payload preparation facility.
Now fully available in Arabic is this companys new website. This new offering arrived directly after the Company announced a joint venture with Dubai-based I2TC, which created the Middle Easts leading location-based service provider. The new website provides FindWheres MENA customers with secure, user friendly access to current and historical locations of their GPS tracked devices and mobile phones, including address, time, and even speed. Services also include on-the-move notifications, panic alerts, and notification of entry or exit of pre-determined geo-fences. FindWhere delivers advanced Global Positioning Satellite tracking features and functionality in an accurate and easy to use solution.
HUGHES NETWORK SYSTEMS
HughesNet broadband services are being implemented by their Hughes do Brasil subsidiary, with new Ku-band capacity on Intelsats Galaxy-28 satellite. Delio Morais, the president of Hughes do Brasil, said, The Galaxy-28 satellite offers us strategic infrastructure, as it ensures that we will have the capacity necessary to keep pace with the growing demand for broadband services in Brasil and across this region.
Hughes is going to intensify their efforts in the South American markets with MPLS networks backup, corporate networks management, networks for distance learning, high-speed Internet access, as well as IPTV solutions. Echoing Mr. Morais statement is the regional vice president, Latin America and the Caribbean, Carmen Gonzalez-Sanfeliu, The rate of adoption of more robust data services is accelerating rapidly throughout Latin America and Intelsat has been providing satellite capacity for Hughes since its entry into the provision of broadband satellite services in the region. (See her article, Innovations Fuel Growth in Latin American Region, in this issue of SatMagazine.)
This media company now offers Baghdad TV broadcast on the web, all delivered via satellite. This is a positive programming approach and examines various solutions for the problems of violence, ethnic differences, extremist threats, and other issues, all with an eye to country unification on an Arab and Islamic basis. The object of Baghdad TV is to adopt a moderate Islamic concept through a modern and unbiased angle, encouraging effective contribution in building the country, concentrating on the people, and hopefully creating a comprehensive political vision for Iraqi citizens.
The Company has established a WiMAX business unit to pursue satellite-enabled WiMAX opportunities in emerging markets throughout Africa, South America, and Asia. Satellite technology is critical to reliably and cost-efficiently expanding the coverage reach of WiMAX networks in areas where traditional terrestrial networks are not a feasible option, as satellites can effectively link remotely located WiMAX base stations to a centralized switching infrastructure. With an increasing number of WiMAX deployments in rural regions, there is an emerging demand for satellite-enabled networks. Norsat stated that its satellite systems technology expertise enables the company to provide the optimal satellite backhaul solution in a hybrid WiMAX-satellite communication network.
Satellite-enabled WiMAX is a strategic extension of our core capabilities, said Dr. Amiee Chan, president and CEO, Norsat International. We believe by capitalizing on our understanding of satellite capacity optimization, remote satellite communication management and network engineering, and partnering with players in the WiMAX space, we will be well positioned to establish a strong foothold in this burgeoning market. Norsat plans to leverage its satellite communication expertise and work with telecommunications operators and other technology partners to provide end-to-end satellite-enabled WiMAX network solutions for wireless broadband access and voice, data and video communication services. These solutions are expected to include: base stations, voice, data and video content servers, operations support systems, satellite backhaul solutions, and satellite capacity.
This firm provides satellite telematics, asset tracking, and monitoring services, and the Company has relocated their U.S. operation to larger premises in Marion, Illinois. This follows last years Satamatics U.K. HQ move to larger, more suitable premises, and sits in line with their current expansion plans. Elonda Wallace, Operations Manager, said: To reflect our continuing success and to enable us to deal with our future growth plans, it was necessary to expand into bigger and more suitable office space. The office in Marion will become the central point for all our South American and U.S. business The new office address is Satamatics USA, 4503 W. DeYoung St., Suite 204C, Marion, Il 62959 USA All other contact details will remain the same and customers will see seamless customer service throughout the office move.
SES NEW SKIES
Last September, SES NEW SKIES announced SkyVision had renewed contracts for four transponders and contracted additional capacity on the NSS-10 satellite. Terms of the multi-year agreement remain confidential. SkyVision, from its key gateways in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, offers end-to-end solutions for standard or custom-tailored IP connectivity services for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecommunications solutions to enterprises, government organizations, as well as NGOs. The company first contracted SES capacity in 2005.
The Company has expanded their coverage for its commercial grade Connexstar service to include select countries across MENA and Europe. The new Connexstar International Satellite Services will connect remote overseas locations via satellite directly to a secure teleport facility in the United States. The new Spacenet services provide carrier class communications for voice, video, or data applications, and includes toll quality telephone service, high-speed broadband Internet access, and two-way video capabilities, all via satellite. Standard service packages are available in speeds ranging from 256 Kbps to 2 Mbps, with the option for up to six telephone lines, and include remote terminal equipment, in-country installation and field maintenance. The new Connexstar International services are based on the industry-leading SkyEdge VSAT platform as well as the Cisco VSAT Network Module, enabling seamless integration into popular models of Cisco routers. Spacenets international services will initially be available using Ku-band satellite services, with C-band services coming online in the near future.
David Pollack, the president and CEO of Spacecom, discussed the Companys challenges in MENA and said they have been of a type that would be experienced by any satellite services company operating anywhere in the world: delivering capacity to customers where and when they need it. Spacecom is a native player in the Middle East and, as the company intimately understands this region, it made a great deal of sense to offer their services for this area of the world. David added, Of course, even for native players, there are challenges, regional politics being an important, although certainly not insurmountable one in our case. If anything, these challenges have made Spacecom even more committed to the aggressive pursuit of opportunities between the region and other under-served, high growth ones in Africa, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.
To conduct business in the region, we identified and partnered with integrators and companies offering complementary services that can provide the terrestrial component of the complete satellite services solution our customers need. These strategic partnerships allow the Company to focus on those services in which we have developed an expertise namely, delivering capacity in space for our customers.
When queried regarding the opportunities and challenges for Spacecom over the next year, David replied, Spacecom has a strong business model and presence in the Middle East and Europe. Consequently, our primary challenge in 2009 will be to maintain our strong market position in the region. We will also be busy laying the groundwork for future satellites that will join the Spacecom constellation in the near- and medium-term. For instance, Spacecom is rolling out an ambitious satellite launch schedule starting in 2010, which will see the deployment of AMOS-5 to a new orbital location with C- and Ku-band coverage over the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, and Europe. In fact, because of the economic slowdown in North America and Europe, we have committed ourselves in the years ahead to diversifying our potential service and coverage areas beyond these regions by aggressively expanding our satellite constellation to enable value-added services within and between the Middle East and the under-served, high growth areas of Africa and Asia.
Talia Satellite & Telecom
The Company has extended their DVB-S2 services into Africa and offers shared iDirect service on the following satellites:
- Arabsat BADR-4 at 26° E
- Express-AM22 (53° E)
- NSS-703 (57° E)
- Telstar-12 (15° QW)
There are also dedicated services available via Arabsat-2B (30.5° E). A number of dedicated bandwidth solutions are also offered, from 18 Mbps downstream to 8.4 Mbps upstream. For full details on all of the satellite footprints, select the diagram below.
Tesacom, Stratos Global Corp. and Addvalue Communications joined forces last month to successfully deploy a 1,200-site BGAN mobile satellite network in support of the first round of Brazils municipal elections that occurred on October 5th. Tesacom, a StratosELITE Partner, is a provider of remote telecommunications solutions in South America, while Addvalue designs and supplies BGAN terminals. Tesacom was selected by the Brazilian Electoral Superior Court to deploy the BGAN network at voting precincts in rural communities nationwide. Their selection of Tesacom for these elections represents the worlds largest single contract for the purchase of the BGAN service.
Moreover, theres additional good news for this Brazilian telecom company. Iridium Satellite now has a strategic partnership with them, due to their growth in the South American market. Licenses that Tesacom holds include Non Geostationary Satellite Global Mobile Service (SMGS), Multimedia Communications Service (SCM) and Limited Specialized Service (SLE). Tesacom serves markets such as maritime, oil and gas, utilities, agriculture, emergency communications, mining, transportation, government, and the military. Our alliance with Tesacom, a well-respected leader in the South American telecommunications sector, will provide an important boost in offering Iridium services to the growing South American market, said Greg Ewert, executive vice president, Iridium Satellite.
Martijn Bos, the General Manager Vizada FZE, is responsible for the Vizada mobile satellite services (MSS) activity in the MENA region. He has been based in the Vizada office in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai, for two years and he notes, First of all, this region is characterized by significant growth potential and presents many mobile satellite business opportunities. At the same time, we are very conscious that a lot of work needs to be done on our side to help potential customers understand the usefulness and benefits of mobile satcoms within their respective organizations.
Secondly, this growth potential can be further narrowed down to IP-based mobile satellite services for which were seeing increasing up-take. These include services like Inmarsat BGAN and ThurayaIP on land, as well as Inmarsat FleetBroadband and Iridium OpenPort for the maritime community. Many of our service providers hail from the traditional mobile handheld world (GSM and so on), which has typically focused on voice services. Right now, how we help them is by explaining the value of IP and highlighting the opportunities the technology opens up when selling communications solutions to the end customer.
Another particular characteristic of this market is the importance of mobile satellite solutions within the end-user, retail market.Traditionaltelecoms infrastructure (fixed line; GSM) is less developed here than in other regions of the world. As a consequence, the number of individual customers using mobile satcoms handsets for their everyday private and professional calls such as those produced by Thuraya is quite high. Lastly, the customers in this region are very price-conscious. That can admittedly be said about many regions, but particularly so in this region of the world! There is a level of economic insecurity in a number of markets that leads our customers to focus heavily on price. However, we can also say that this is universal in the sense that it applies to all industries, not just the MSS business. We have an in-depth understanding of customers communications needs in this region and have developed a highly tailored approach to the four main points outlined above.
For the MENA environs, YahClick has debuted from Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PrJsc. Known as YahSat, this new satellite broadband Internet service will be offered in the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as South West Asia. Enterprise and home users will be able to access these new services through the companys new Yahsat-1B satellite, their second to be launched. Yahsat happens to be the United Arab Emirates first, nationally owned satellite operator. The investment firm, Mubadala Development Company, wholly owns YahSat.
YahClick will fast track the deployment of broadband service and bring the Internet to millions of underserved and unserved people and organizations at costs comparable to terrestrial services, said Jassem Al Zaabi, CEO of Yahsat. Yahsat-1B will deliver this connectivity through Ka-band multi-spot beams, and reusable frequencies will maximize spectrum efficiencies, such as the use of a smaller antenna size with a lower power amplifier.
You Must Possess The Know-How
One critical area to consider as far as your business investment in MENA and South American markets is acquisition of the workforce. Qualified individuals who can operate your equipment, understand the technologies, and complement your business efforts, need to be located and trained. This is not an easy task. Outsourcing critical work back to the home company, or transferring personnel to an overseas region, is expensive, worrisome, and time consuming.
If VSAT is your bread and butter, enter NetHope this is a U.S.-based global information technology alliance of 25 of the worlds largest aid agencies. NetHope operates in partnership with the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), the African eDevelopment Resource Centre (AeRC), and iDirect, and has initiated an advanced VSAT installation and maintenance-training program in Nairobi. The training was delivered through a new regional capacity-building facility that was established to enable the African communications community fully realize the objectives of Connect Africa. This project is an initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that hopes to greatly expand connectivity throughout the African continent.
Attending the first workshop were staff from five NetHope aid organizations that represented five countries that included Kenya, Sudan, Benin, Eritrea, and Tanzania. The course is one part of three levels of increasing complexity, culminating in Level 3 GVF VSAT hands on training, skills testing and certification. In many areas in the developing world, and especially Africa, VSAT is the only practical solution. However, as mentioned earlier, the technical expertise to set up and maintain systems is hard to find and expensive to contract. Training the local NGO workforce will enable faster, less costly installations and increase up time once sites are operational.
Delivering local training is one of the pillars of NetHopes operations, said Bill Brindley, NetHope Director and CEO. We plan to build upon our collaboration with GVF, AeRC, and iDirect to train 150 local workers over the next 18 months in Nairobi. The GVF training will also be offered through training centers in West and South Africa in early to mid 2009.
The satellite industry is proud to serve as a partner of NetHope and of the ITU Connect Africa initiative, said David Hartshorn, Secretary General of GVF. Likewise, iDirect donated three complete VSAT systems and installation tool kits to NetHope to enable sustainable training.
David Wren, Director of Field Services for iDirect, said, Having the right knowledge without the right tools is a weak link in the chain. We want to ensure that NetHope technical staff have the means, knowledge, and experience to do a proper field installation the first time.
The Nairobi pilot program will become a standardized component of NetHopes ICT Skills Building program and will be offered to all member organizations, starting in January 2009. Plus, in support of the NetHope program, and as part of its commitment to the ITU Connect Africa initiative, GVF matched each paid registration with delivery of an additional complimentary seat in the training course. NetHope aid organizations plan to install hundreds of new VSAT sites in the next 18 months. VSAT solutions are also especially critical to deploying relief in the wake of disasters. Donations for tuition and VSAT tools kits are needed to scale local workforce development. Select the NetHope icon above for further details.
Come On In...
MENA and South America markets are enthusiastically open for satcom business. Other articles within this issue of SatMagazine will reveal the depth and breadth of such opportunities. We hope many will be able to apply the funding and technologies required to provide the clamored-for communication solutions in these regions of the world, where usage growth rates continue to climb. MENA and South American markets are a call to heed to those in need.
Hartley Lesser, Editorial Director