Kenya to retain satellite links

November 9, 2009
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 9 – Kenya will still require satellite internet communications in the near future to connect the rural and remote areas in the country despite the operationalisation of the fibre optic cables.

Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said although expensive, satellite cannot be disregarded as it will help provide the last mile solution to consumers.

“We have done a lot of work in terms of fibre optics both undersea and terrestrial, but fibre is not a substitute of satellite communication and you can never cover the whole country using fibre optics,” he said.

It was widely believed that with the switching on of the SEACOM and The East African Marines Systems, (TEAMS), satellite links would be terminated in favour of the cables’ connections.

Satellite and cables are interdependent but the former is preferred in underserved areas to offer end-to-end solutions.

Such will come in handy particularly as the government which has indicated its intention to focus mainly on taking ICT development to the rural areas goes about launching such programs such as digital villages and ‘pasha’ centres.

“We are working on several e-solutions especially e-learning materials, e-health and e-agriculture. So with all these we must ensure that we are ready to prepare our rural folk and ensure that all our villages are interconnected,” stressed the PS.

Erez Antebi the Chief Executive Officer of an Israeli-based Satellite Network firm Gilat Satellites however added that these links have many advantages as they are independent of any infrastructure and provide uniform nationwide service levels.

“Satellite covers everything no matter where you are, no matter how far you are from the major city, its there, its available and its easy to use,” Mr Antebi said.

He added that these connections have a 99.9 percent availability which is much higher than other networks such as the cellular or Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology which provides high speed internet access to homes and small businesses.

Mr Antebi welcomed the government’s invitation for the company to develop unique solutions that help will address the problems that Kenya faces.

With its experience it has gained from working and providing technology for over 20 years and as many countries around the world, the CEO expressed confidence that they would be able to provide the solutions that the country needs.

He also hinted that they were looking at opening an office in Kenya in the near future to help them in this quest.

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