Seacom launches a satellite service two months after a subsea cable disruption

  • Seacom, a telecommunications and subsea cable provider, has diversified beyond its subsea cable operations by launching a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite service in South Africa. It is using Eutelsat OneWeb to provide LEO services in the region.
  • The company stated that all necessary trials have been completed, and the service is now available to its enterprise clients, providing a gateway for integrating LEO satellite connectivity into their network infrastructure and business.

Seacom describes the launch as an “evolutionary” shift in regional connectivity. The telco stated that it conducted two years of consultation with industry partners before the launch and was part of the first shipment order of LEO satellite equipment into South Africa. It began installations and trials as soon as the order arrived. 

In operation, data transmitted via satellite is routed to teleport facilities strategically placed across various geographic locations. Data is then routed from these facilities to various network centres and endpoints. 

Unlike fixed-line and cellular broadband, satellite connectivity does not rely on local base stations or nodes. This independence allows LEO services to remain operational even when local infrastructure experiences failures, such as power outages.

Seacom”s Group CEO, Alpheus Mangale, believes that the company wants to make the LEO service an essential value offering for large, medium, and small-scale organisations.

According to Seacom, LEO is an excellent choice for enterprises in a variety of industries, including financial services, retail, mining, and education, that face low latency and high workloads.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s Starlink is the world’s largest LEO provider, having served more than eight African countries. 

However, it is not officially approved in South Africa, but its roaming service is operational. In February 2024, Starlink disconnected several South African customers from its satellite Internet service, citing trademark and copyright infringement.

However, Starlink has officially stated that it will not allow its services in unlicensed areas, including Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, thereby discontinuing the roaming service by April 2024. 

This news follows Seacom’s launch announcement and could result in faster adoption of the Seacom LEO satellite in South Africa. 

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