Article   April 20, 2020

The information and communications technology sector of Central and West Africa are growing rapidly. Interestingly, VSAT technology in these regions. Before I proceed, let’s have a better understanding of VSAT technology.

What’s VSAT Technology in a Simple Term?

VSAT is an acronym for Very Small Aperture Terminal. It’s a two-way satellite ground station that serves home and business users. Generally, this technology interacts with other satellites in orbit to create a connection that communicates with other VSATs. The connection created gives us access to the internet or data. Sounds interesting, right? Keep reading…

Why Are Businesses or Countries in Central and West Africa Embracing VSAT?

When it comes to conceivable communication technology requirements, there’s no universal technology that provides all solutions. Every technology has its area of strength, and they mostly work together to deliver optimal solutions.

However, countries and businesses in Central and West Africa are embracing VSAT technology. That’s because it’s rapidly and cost-effectively providing solutions. So, companies and countries in these African regions can quickly deploy and optimize the technology to meet their challenges of dispersed population centers and rugged terrain.

Over the last few years, VSAT technology has been providing ‘instant infrastructure’ in many Central and West African Countries. This is because of the technology’s exceptional features like; quick installation, low initial investment, low per-minute operating cost, etc.

How Does VSAT Technology Differ from Fiber Optic Technology?

VSAT and Fiber optic are two different technologies. For instance, while VSAT technology communicates via satellite in orbit, the Fiber optic technology is terrestrial. Also, VSAT technology operation is wireless while Fiber optic operates via a wireline technology.

You see, the two technologies have different methods of operations. And the fact that VSAT technology is wireless makes it perfect for countries in Central and West Africa.

What are the Benefits of VSAT Technology Vis-a-Vis Fiber Optic?

VSAT technology has several benefits over the fiber optic. One of the benefits of satellite technology is the fact that it’s cost-effective. You can affordably achieve adequate coverage of large areas using VSAT technology. End-users’ location in Central and West African countries can always be connected to the internet via VSAT technology. The Fiber Optic technology, on the other hand, requires high investment to launch. Also, it takes longer to complete the deployment of fiber and makes it available to unserved areas.

Another great advantage of VSAT technology over Fiber optic is the fact that it’s location independent. What this means is that the technology is flexible as it allows broadband connection in any location. Interestingly, connection to the internet in a VSAT coverage area is possible through fixed and mobile equipment.

Furthermore, end-user location in VSAT coverage areas is always connected to the internet as long as the technology’s dish is within reach.

Again, VSAT technology doesn’t have many components; this makes it easier to launch and reduces the possibility of a network outage. The fewer the component, the more stable the network. For instance, a typical VSAT technology has satellite, teleport, Network Operation Centers(NOC) and VSAT terminals.

The fiber optic technology, on the other hand, has more components parts. This makes it capital intensive to launch, a bit challenging to maintain, and more likely to have network outage.

Another area where VSAT technology has the advantage of Fiber Optic is operational capacity and flexibility. Generally, satellite networks are designed to work on their own without interacting with terrestrial infrastructure. The technology will always maintain connectivity independently as long as it is powered.

Ease of installation is another benefit of VSAT technology over fiber optic. It’s easy to deploy satellite antennas, and the installation doesn’t take much time. And if you need VSAT for a mobile and transportable solution, connection to the internet only takes a few minutes.

The Big Question is – Why is Investment in VSAT technology Still Low in Central and West African Countries Despite Its Benefits?

Well, this is not true. The investment in VSAT technology in the Central and West African region is growing rapidly. Even though fiber optic technology is still dominant in these regions, investors are investing in VSAT technology.

Furthermore, the Arrival of HTS (High-throughput Satellite) in the region has dramatically increased the demand for VSAT services. This will help to unlock connectivity in the area and triggers more investment in the technology by investors.

Again, satellite systems always serve large areas in different geographical locations. So, you can’t give accurate statistics on the number of VSAT technology serving the Central and West African region. The reason for this is because these technologies sometimes serve several continents. You see, it’s a bit difficult to give accurate statistics.

Does VSAT Technology have Limitation?

Like every other man-made technology, VSAT has its limitations. It’s not all rosy. For instance, compared to fiber optic technology, VSAT technology latency is high. Latency refers to the delays that usually occur in a round trip of data transmission; it’s measured in milliseconds. When it comes to bandwidth throughput, Fiber optic networks achieve higher than VSAT technology. So, fiber optic has a higher capacity to transfer data.

‘Throughput’ as used in the previous paragraph is the measurement of the number of bits that flow through network connection at a particular time.

Some Countries in Central And West Africa Already Have Submarine Cables Will They Need VSAT Technology in Future?

One thing about technology is that they complement each other. Fiber optic network may not be deployed to every nook and crannies of these regions due to economies of scale. So, VSAT will always be needed to provide coverage to unserved and remote areas. VSAT technology will also be needed to provide backup for installations that always require connectivity.

What Are The Challenges Investors in VSAT Technology Face in Central and West African regions?

Investors in VSAT technology are facing several challenges in the west and central African regions. One of the challenges is the negative publicity spreading in the region about VSAT technology to promote other technologies. Over time, this publicity makes VSAT look outdated and archaic.