The UN has declared Internet access a basic human right, but tens of millions of Africans still remain unconnected. Looking to change this scenario, though, is a newly-formed South African company – Innova HTS.
Founded by Rob Griggs, former executive MD of Bytes Systems Integrators, and Vladimir Budnitsky, a recognised authority on satellite applications, Innova HTS’s vision is to “accelerate the adoption of satellite broadband enabled WiFi to the billion unconnected people in Africa.”
The company is aiming to achieve this goal using high-throughput satellite (HTS) technology from global leaders such as Eutelsat, Intelsat, Avanti, Bentley Walker, Kaspersky Federal and others who are enabling cost-effective broadband satellite solutions to effectively compete with existing fibre and wireless technologies in all but densely populated metropolitan areas.
“While HTS technology is not new, significant coverage for Africa has only became available recently with new satellite launches in September last year by Intelsat, and Avanti launching in April this year,” explains Griggs. “Coverage will be further strengthened when Eutelsat launches a dedicated HTS Ka satellite next year.
“Simply put, HTS is broadband satellite with typical speeds of 10-40 Mbps and at affordable prices,” Griggs says.
Innova HTS has adopted a channel centric go-to-market strategy and has appointed Axiz as its exclusive distribution partner.
“HTS in Ka band, brings innovations and price-points that, for the first time, enable a channel model of distribution and implementation for end users,” says Budnitsky. “HTS Ka band terminals (dishes) are smaller, lighter and much easier to install and maintain than older C and Ku band technologies. With a single morning’s training, channel partners throughout the region can be adequately equipped to enable this technology for their clients.
“HTS can be up and running in a matter of two hours, almost anywhere on the continent, with no waiting for fibre or high-sites,” Budnitsky adds. “It cannot be dug up, stolen or compromised in ways that continue to plague broadband terrestrial and microwave/wireless approaches. And prices are comparable or even better than those mediums, outside of the densely populated metros.
“Some of the key technology trends driving HTS are the adoption of offshore cloud platforms from global leaders Azure, AWS and Google, and widespread use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype and other social media platforms,” Budnitsky continues. “We are able to offer direct HTS connectivity to gateways in the UK and Europe to all of these providers, thereby circumventing the undersea cable routes which are highly contended and over‑subscribed.
“The advent of IOT and the need to interconnect thousands of devices across a widespread geography is another situation that can be addressed by HTS for mining, agriculture, fleet management, logistics tracking and many other such environments,” he says.
Jacques Malherbe, chief technology officer of Axiz and managing executive of Advanced Technologies, is enthusiastic about the opportunities presented to the channel by Innova HTS.
“As with all new technologies, Axiz undertook a rigorous technical and financial evaluation of this technology,” Malherbe says. “We concluded that it offers us a profitable and sustainable business model and an opportunity for us to enter the telecommunications sector with a unique, differentiated technology and an exclusive channel partner approach.
“We have already seen significant orders and extensive interest from the Public Sector and large enterprises in the retail, financial and mining sectors,” he says. “Axiz will use their reach and reputation to get this technology into the client base that has been precluded by price or bandwidth availability in the past.
“It is also important for Axiz and the market to understand that this is just the beginning of HTS in Africa,” Malherbe says. “With speeds 100 times the present 10 Gbps per HTS beam, Terabit per second technology will revolutionise the opportunities further in 2021. Ka band HTS is a game-changing, industry-wide innovation, vastly expanding the market for satellite communications.”
Griggs echoes Malherbe’s sentiments: “We are very encouraged by the take-up from the channel community and the market in general. Our only challenge has been to alter mind-sets towards satellite as older VSAT has changed little in 35 years, with all of its inherent limitations.
“HTS Ka is completely revolutionary and needs to be viewed as such and in a brand new light; bandwidth, price, simplicity and wide connectivity are no longer constraints frustrating the end user,” Griggs says.