One of the biggest Internet Access Providers in Zimbabwe, Africom, launched a VSAT teleport hub in Harare this morning. The teleport, pictured on the left, was installed with the help of SkyVision Global Networks, a global provider of IP connectivity over satellite systems.
The teleport hub is generally a central satellite earth station for direct communication with remote locations in Zimbabwe. Direct in the sense that VSAT terminals in Zimbabwe will be able to connect to this hub to get to the internet or other local networks wihout needing to route data via international satellite gateways in Europe and the Middle East as is the case with most installations in the country.
This new local hub makes it possible for organisations and other ISPs to provide low latency solutions connecting corporate headquarters to this hub by terrestrial links.
On how the new teleport hub will impact on Zimbabwe’s telecommunications, Africom founder and CEO, Mr. Kwanayi Kashangura said:
Many here will attest to the frustration faced by organizations seeking communication solutions, particularly in the more remote areas of the country. These remote areas incidentally are the locations of the heart of the traditional economy of Zimbabwe; agriculture, mining and tourism.
This satellite telecommunication port that we have invested in will address this particular pain. Whilst satellite technology is not new in Zimbabwe, our investment will dramatically improve response times by reducing the latency between the satellites in the sky and our hub, resulting in faster communication.
Currently, the Zimbabwe telecommunciations regulator, POTRAZ requires all VSAT service providers to have the VSAT infrastructure hubbed in Zimbabwe. This rule has however been flouted by a lot of ISPs with little reproach from the regulator, probably because of the low internet communications capacity the country has.
Speaking at the launch, POTRAZ Director General Mr. Alfred Marisa said “We acknowledge the compliance of Africom to its licensing obligations and we today bear witness to another milestone not only for Africom as an operator but for the Zimbabwean telecommunications industry as a whole.”
With all the the optic-fibre buzz going on in the country, most Zimbabweans may not see the significance of this teleport hub launch. Mainly because when people talk about connecting to undersea fibre cables they mildly associate it with the death of expensive satellite communications. This ofcourse is not the case. Satellite comms are often the only option for remote areas where it’s not cost effective to lay a fibre line to the country’s fibre backbone.