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NEC XON leverages tech it distributes as natural disaster backup

Eutelsat OneWeb technology (distribution deal signed late 2023) provides timely disaster recovery for leading pan-African systems integrator.

Johannesburg, 14 Mar 2024
Faried Souma, GM Wireless at NEC XON.
Faried Souma, GM Wireless at NEC XON.

Maintaining uninterrupted internet connectivity is essential to business operations these days. As NEC XON and other Midrand businesses discovered in February 2024, natural disasters leading to infrastructure failures can disrupt critical communication channels. However, the NEC XON team had an ace up its sleeve – a low earth orbit-based (LEO) low-latency satellite access solution provided by Eutelsat OneWeb, which it had signed a distribution agreement with late in 2023.

According to Faried Souma, GM Wireless at NEC XON, a severe storm swept across Midrand, South Africa on Tuesday, 20 February. “It caused extensive damage to critical infrastructure, including a major fibre POP. This disruption affected multiple organisations in the area, including NEC XON, whose office connectivity was compromised. With 250 employees relying on stable internet access for their daily operations, the outage posed a significant challenge.”

Walking its own low earth satellite talk

“Despite having both primary and backup fibre links, NEC XON found itself without connectivity as both channels were affected. The repair estimate provided by service providers indicated a downtime of three days, affecting NEC XON's operations and productivity.”

In response to the crisis, and walking its own talk, NEC XON turned to the innovative solution provided by OneWeb, an LEO pioneer. The company swiftly deployed the OneWeb satellite solution as a backup connectivity measure. As one of the early adopters of the technology in South Africa, NEC XON's technical team configured the satellite access within an hour to provide seamless connectivity for the entire office. This swift deployment allowed NEC XON to circumvent the terrestrial communication infrastructure failures and maintain uninterrupted operations.

Uninterrupted operations: NEC XON leverages Eutelsat OneWeb satellite technology for reliable disaster recovery.
Uninterrupted operations: NEC XON leverages Eutelsat OneWeb satellite technology for reliable disaster recovery.

The implementation of OneWeb satellite technology as an internet backup solution has provided NEC XON with several significant benefits:

  • Resilience and reliability: OneWeb's low earth orbit satellite network bypasses terrestrial communication infrastructure vulnerabilities, such as power outages, fire or flooding. This ensures continuous connectivity even in the face of natural disasters or infrastructure failures.
  • Improved latency: With latency reduced from 650ms to under 100ms over traditional satellite solutions due to its low earth orbit nature, NEC XON experienced good performance, making it feasible for various communication needs, including voice and data transmission.
  • Cost savings: The switchover to satellite backup mitigated significant potential revenue losses for NEC XON.
  • Automatic cutover: In future, the entire NEC XON office will cut over to the OneWeb solution automatically in case of an outage to provide backup as a service.
  • Ease of implementation: NEC XON's experience highlights the ease of deploying and configuring OneWeb satellite technology, enabling quick adoption and integration into existing infrastructure.

For key NEC XON target markets like mining and agriculture, low-latency satellite options are really important as they face severe consequences if terrestrial infrastructure fails.

Mining and agriculture implications

Mining operations heavily rely on real-time data and communication systems to co-ordinate equipment, monitor processes and ensure safety. Loss of connectivity disrupts production schedules, leading to downtime and revenue losses. Internet connectivity is also crucial for safety in terms of remote equipment monitoring and emergency communication systems. Losing it increases accident risk and delays in response to emergencies. Additionally, mining operations generate vast amounts of exploration, extraction and processing data. Internet connectivity downtime can result in data loss, hindering decision-making processes and causing inefficiencies in resource management.

In agriculture, businesses rely on internet connectivity for real-time crop, weather and soil condition monitoring. Loss of connectivity can impede timely decision-making regarding irrigation, fertilisation and pest control, potentially leading to yield losses. Precision farming techniques, such as GPS-guided equipment and remote sensing technologies, depend on internet connectivity for data transmission and analysis. Interruption in connectivity can hinder the implementation of precision farming practices, reducing productivity and increasing input costs. Internet connectivity also facilitates agricultural supply chain co-ordination. Without it, there can be delays in logistics, inventory management and order processing, affecting the timely delivery of products and revenue generation.

As businesses continue to prioritise uninterrupted communication, solutions like Eutelsat OneWeb satellite technology offer a reliable and efficient means of ensuring continuous connectivity, regardless of external challenges.

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NEC XON

NEC XON is a leading African integrator of ICT solutions and part of NEC, a Japanese global company. NEC XON has operated in Africa since 1963 and delivers communications, energy, safety, security, and digital solutions. It co-creates social value through innovation to help overcome serious societal challenges. The organisation operates in 54 African countries and has a footprint in 16 of them. Regional headquarters are located in South, East, and West Africa. NEC XON is a level 1-certified broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) business. Discover more at www.nec.xon.co.za.

Editorial contacts

Michelle Oelschig
Scarlet Letter
(+27) 083 636 1766
michelle@scarletletter.co.za