Read this article to learn:
- The size and shape of the coverage gap in Sub-Saharan Africa
- How Avanti are working with towercos
- Details of the recently launched Avanti EXTEND
- Insights into Avanti’s partnership with Clear Blue Technologies
- The socio-economic benefits being brought by enhanced connectivity
Focussed on improving connectivity across the African continent, Avanti are working alongside operators and now towercos to tackle the challenges of extending coverage to the unconnected in hard to reach areas. Here we speak to the company about their newly launched Avanti EXTEND, their partnership with Clear Blue Technologies and the impact that Avanti’s work is having on unconnected communities
TowerXchange: Please can you introduce Avanti
Kyle Whitehill, CEO at Avanti: Avanti Communications is the leading KA-band high throughput satellite capacity partner to the communications industry across EMEA, focussed on connecting Africa.
Our mission is to work in partnership with the people of Africa to empower growth, protect communities and unlock opportunities for individuals, businesses, and governments, by creating better connections across the continent. Over the past three years, we have transformed our business and quadrupled revenue to help reach this long-term goal.
TowerXchange: Whilst it is generally well known that there is a large coverage gap in Sub-Saharan Africa, can you help paint a better picture of the size and shape of this and how it is evolving? To what extent are governments across the continent pushing to address this gap and how readily are mobile operators responding and investing in addressing rural coverage?
Kyle Whitehill, CEO at Avanti: There are still 3 billion people in the world today who are not connected. We know that global demand for data outstrips supply, leaving many excluded. This is even more exaggerated in sub-Saharan Africa where the population is growing 2.7% per year. As a result, rural expansion is desperately needed.
As the number one high throughput satellite company in Africa, we are working hard to connect hard-to-reach areas that have never before been connected to the rest of the world in this way.
Across our HYLAS fleet, more than 70% of our coverage is over Africa, where we have been providing connectivity services for more than a decade. To help power growth, we have also committed 75% of our total investment to help connect the continent.
Governments and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are increasingly looking to partners like Avanti to help address the digital divide. We are already rolling out rural and ultra-rural backhaul with Africa’s largest MNO and tower companies to provide life-enhancing coverage to even more people across the continent.
TowerXchange: Whilst towercos have historically been focussed on developing sites in more populated areas, more are starting to look at solutions to aid in addressing the rural coverage gap. In what way can towercos and satellite companies work together? What does the business model look like, how is it evolving and to what extent has Avanti worked with towercos to date?
Kyle Whitehill, CEO at Avanti: Significant progress has been made over the past 30 years in connecting rural communities but addressing the coverage gap remains a huge challenge, due to limited terrestrial networks in rural communities. We are currently working with some of the largest tower companies to provide cellular backhaul across Africa using our HYLAS 4 satellite and expand our partners’ networks.
Satellite services can directly complement the infrastructure of tower companies, by enabling new towers to come into service much faster than terrestrial solutions, often up to 6 months earlier. We will continue to work closely with tower companies to understand how we can improve this existing model further.
TowerXchange: You recently launched Avanti EXTEND – a new managed satellite service for rural connectivity. What benefits do you see it bringing to mobile network operators and tower companies?
Kyle Whitehill, CEO at Avanti: Avanti EXTEND provides high-performance and cost-effective 2G, 3G and 4G solutions to remote and hard-to-reach areas across sub-Saharan Africa. This enables MNOs and tower companies to provide reliable cellular service to the 100 million people living in these challenging locations that would otherwise be impossible to reach using traditional terrestrial infrastructure.
Avanti EXTEND’s built-in and fully operational CAPEX solution integrates seamlessly into MNOs’ terrestrial networks to reduce network complexity and increase efficiency. It also offers the opportunity for MNOs and tower companies to undertake large deployments quickly and effectively, and scale operations to support long-term rural expansion at no additional CAPEX. This removes the need for them to manage satellite configurations, hub infrastructure or terrestrial networks to deploy a successful satellite cellular backhaul topology.
Couple this with Avanti’s technical expertise, high-throughput Ka-band, and proven ability to roll out thousands of sites across sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, MNOs and tower companies can be assured they are receiving the highest quality and service available on the market.
TowerXchange: What technology innovations/ new network architectures do you see as particularly promising in bringing economical coverage to remote areas? Are we moving to an era where rural sites can become profitable without any government subsidies?
Kyle Whitehill, CEO at Avanti: Partnership is key to help bring economical coverage to remote areas of the world where terrestrial networks are limited. By working in close partnership, we have been able to help operators and other partners to expand their networks.
For example, our recent partnership with Clear Blue Technologies will accelerate the rural rollout of low-cost connectivity solutions in areas where network coverage and broadband services have been limited or non-existent. Everyone is entitled to a more connected life and the benefits that come with it, and this partnership is expected to deliver coverage to 400 million people living in remote areas within 3-5 years.
As part of this joint rural deployment effort, Avanti provides critical, high throughput Ka-band satellite connectivity and VSAT equipment, whilst Clear Blue Technologies deploys smart, off-grid solar-powered solutions with remote management and control.
TowerXchange: Can you share some insights into the socio-economic benefits that have been brought by bringing coverage to previously unconnected communities?
Kyle Whitehill, CEO at Avanti: We are committed to enabling people, countries, and continents to ‘Be More’. By helping communities across Africa to become better connected, we have been able to create better access to education, medicine and help provide a safer environment for them to live in.
For example, this year we started working with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, as a corporate partner to donate solar-powered satellite broadband connectivity and laptops, to seven UNHCR sites in remote and off-grid refugee settlements in Uganda. By giving access to technology and helping refugees and the communities that host them be part of a connected society, we are helping them build a better future for themselves and their families.
We also strongly believe in the power of education to help children build a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. We know connectivity has a key role to play in improving access to quality learning, and we are determined to use our satellite technology to help even more children gain access to this. As part of this, we are proud to be working with the GPE to help break down some of the social barriers preventing girls from reaching their full potential.