Seacom diversifies with low-earth orbit satellite service

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 16 Apr 2024
Alpheus Mangale, group CEO of Seacom.
Alpheus Mangale, group CEO of Seacom.

Submarine cable operator Seacom has rolled out its low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite service targeting enterprises.

With the new service, the company is looking to broaden its business beyond its traditional cable offering.

Other LEO satellite service providers in South Africa include Eutelsat, Paratus and OneWeb.

In a statement, Seacom says the new service marks an evolutionary shift in connectivity in SA and complements existing terrestrial broadband infrastructure and technologies.

The launch comes after a two-year process of consultation with industry partners. During that time, Seacom was part of the purchase order of the first shipment of LEO satellite equipment into SA. Upon delivery, the company proceeded to complete all necessary installations and test trials, it notes.

According to Seacom, LEO satellites orbit the Earth at an altitude of 2 000km or less − the same altitude at which the International Space Station currently orbits.

The company points out that the area is essential for economic-related activities, such as communication, transportation and observation.

Evolving potential

“The journey for Seacom leading up to this launch has been insightful and has given us a chance to learn more about this technology,” says Clayton Codd, general manager for sales at Seacom South Africa.

“Our clients have watched closely and have been responsive. They’re interested in the capabilities and overall potential of LEO connectivity technology and are attracted by the element of innovation and the stability it could bring to parts of their business.

“We’re very excited to be a part of these discussions with our clients, to demonstrate those capabilities and support our clients in overcoming some of the key challenges they are experiencing in the South African market and beyond.”

With the launch of the service, enterprises can integrate LEO satellite connectivity into their network infrastructure and business continuity strategies, Seacom notes.

It explains that data routed through the satellite is beamed to teleport facilities placed in geographically strategic locations, from which it is then routed to various network centres and endpoints.

LEO is especially optimal for enterprises with low latency and intensive workload requirements, including those in sectors such as financial services, retail, mining and education, says the firm.

During the consultation phase, Seacom was invited to engage with several stakeholders on the feasibility of LEO satellite connectivity.

“Challenges on the macro level that enterprises are having to confront – most prominently, South Africa’s ongoing energy crisis in the form of load-shedding – require us to explore new avenues with clients, thus uncovering new opportunities for support and collaboration. Put simply, LEO presents an opportunity for us to help organisations confront real business challenges and problem statements in that sphere,” Codd explains.

The launch also sees Seacom partner with one of SA’s financial service providers, which will use LEO to expand its network access capabilities and ensure reliable product and service delivery, the firm adds.

“Many clients and stakeholders may perceive LEO as a silver bullet that negates the need for existing terrestrial infrastructure. The truth is that it’s a component of a comprehensive connectivity ecosystem and solution that requires collaborative solutions to address.

“LEO represents a strategic investment in resilience and business continuity, and Seacom is proud to be one of the frontrunners in facilitating that investment for its clients,” Codd adds.

Always-on connectivity

Alpheus Mangale, group CEO of Seacom, says the launch of the LEO service marks a turning point for Pan-African telecommunications, and is the result of significant investments in the sector and increased adoption.

“The goal is to make the LEO service an essential value offering for organisations of all shapes and sizes. Connectivity is on track to become a wholesale service made up of different technologies that work together to meet clients’ needs and deliver the uptime and performance that’s expected from market leaders,” he says.

“By holistically improving enterprises’ operational capabilities and providing always-on connectivity, we are enabling them and ushering in a new wave of digital transformation.”

Mangale envisions LEO playing a substantial role in Seacom’s corporate social responsibility and associated initiatives.

“There are so many opportunities that can be explored with the power of partnership. By getting major industry players together and uniting them with the common thread of broadband connectivity, we can make significant changes and transform the lives of all South Africans.”