Government engaging multiple satellite internet service providers

24 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Government engaging multiple satellite internet service providers Minister Mavetera calls for digital inclusion

The Sunday Mail

Vladimir Dube

THE Government is actively engaging multiple satellite internet service providers in its attempt to expand internet access and ensure the affordability of data.

Speaking during a question-and-answer session following the launch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Artificial Intelligence Report on Wednesday last week, Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Tatenda Mavetera said while discussions with SpaceX’s Starlink have received the most media attention, Government was not solely focused on one service provider.

Partnerships with a broader range of satellite internet companies are being explored.

Fostering competition in the market, she said, is expected to drive down data prices and benefit internet users.

“As I mentioned in my speech, we are saying we have realised that there are some external costs that contribute to the final cost of data,” she said.

“We are an inland country, so just for us to bring data from where it comes from, there are some costs that are already there.

“What we need to then be able to do is to look at other innovative ways.

“If it means we need to engage satellite (companies) … it cannot only be about one particular company, which is Starlink.

“Starlink is just one of the many satellite companies or low-earth orbit companies that we have in the world.

“So, we are saying we need to engage …

“We want to make sure that we are there to provide reliable and affordable connectivity to the people of Zimbabwe.”

Satellite internet service providers (ISPs) are companies that offer internet access by beaming signals to and from satellites orbiting the Earth.

Unlike traditional internet delivered through fibre optic cables or other means, satellite internet reaches even remote locations where terrestrial infrastructure might be lacking.

The companies launch and maintain constellations of satellites in Earth’s orbit, which are used by users to connect to the internet using a satellite dish installed at their location.

This dish sends and receives signals to and from the orbiting satellites.

There are several major global players in the satellite ISP industry, including HughesNet and Viasat, which offer services across North America and some parts of South America.

Starlink is considered a relatively new player in the industry and offers low-earth orbit satellite internet with potentially faster speeds and broader coverage.

Other service providers such as OneWeb, Project Kuiper and Telesat are also planning to roll out their services in Africa.

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