A number of international firms are competing to bring satellite broadband to the planet in the next few years using low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The new networks promise full global coverage, high performance and competitive pricing.
In the meantime, however, traditional satellite operators are already providing service via legacy systems. One notable effort is Konnect Africa, an initiative of Eutelsat, the Paris-based satellite communications firm. Konnect Africa has launched programs in nine sub-Saharan African countries (Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda), including a Smart Wifi hotspot service targeting small businesses and individuals in remote regions. The service provides all necessary equipment as well as a billing management system which allows businesses to charge individual users data usage fees. The service also allows local content storage and communications to provide free access to health, education, and other services. Konnect Africa marketing materials cite individual costs of “dozens of dollars” — but further detail about costs or performance aren’t yet available.