Kacific the ‘budget airline’ of the internet in rural Indonesia

Following the announcement of the agreement between Kaciifc and BigNet to provide a satellite broadband service to Indonesia, Tech in Asia‘s Jakarta correspondent, Leighton Cosseboom, interviewed Christian Patouraux:

This satellite firm wants to be the ‘budget airline’ of the internet game in rural Indonesia

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Satellite broadband is an option for people who live in rural areas where traditional fixed-line internet services aren’t available. It uses a satellite dish to provide two-way access, and connectivity speeds, which used to be lower, have improved. Download speeds via satellite hookup can now even reach up to 20 megabytes per second. In the US, people who live on farms, or well outside major cities, sometimes resort to satellite internet because fixed-line options don’t make sense.

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When broadband costs 100 percent of average monthly income

The recently published ITU study, Measuring the Information Society Report, 2014, is a sobering document for those interested in how Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific getting connected in the information age.

ITU estimates that almost 3 billion people globally are using the Internet, a penetration rate of over 40 per cent. However usage rates in Asia and the Pacific are low: the only region with even lower rates is Africa. And when you allow for the relatively high usage rate of China, Japan, and South Korea, the underwhelming service and low usage witnesses in many of the islands of the Pacific is brought into stark relief.

Asia and the Pacific is indisputably the world’s most diverse region in terms of ICT development, reflecting the stark differences in economic development throughout the region. At the top of the ICT Development Index (IDI) are the usual suspects. Fiji, with recent investments in connectivity, sits in the middle. The Solomon Islands are in the lower quartile: other smaller Pacific island states don’t even feature in the report.

Fixed-broadband prices as a percentage of GNI p.c. in Asia and the Pacific, 2013

Fixed-broadband prices as a percentage of GNI p.c. in Asia and the Pacific, 2013” width=

Even more alarming are the data on fixed broadband prices as a percentage of GNI per capita: Micronesia Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati, are once again reported by ITU as experiencing some of the most expensive fixed broadband pricing in the world. These countries, for which the relative cost is most crippling, have also seen the least improvement in pricing over recent years. Indeed no viable infrastructure development seems able to fix the issue to date and bring them on par with the rest of the World. Where improvements are made it’s usually in the speed, not pricing.

The report notes: “This suggests operators in several developing countries focused their efforts on improving the speed rather than the price of fixed-broadband entry level plans in 2013.”

World Bank data shows the average price of an entry level fixed broadband plan is 100 per cent of per cent of GNI per capita in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

It gets worse: “Despite paying more for an entry-level fixed-broadband plan, customers in developing countries are getting a connection five times slower on average than that enjoyed by customers in developed countries.”

In the age of universally accessible information that’s not a recipe for national growth and development. And that’s the circle we are trying to break working with governments and private stakeholders in the Pacific Island States.

You can read the full report here.

Some thoughts after Cyclone Pam

The team at Kacific has watched with dismay at the images and stories of the devastation wrought by Cyclone Pam on Vanuatu and other Pacific Islands, including the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu.

A storm of this magnitude would cause damage anywhere, but these images, carried around the globe, show just how vulnerable Pacific Islands are to extreme weather events.

“These islands have become familiar to us over the past 18 months,” said CEO Christian Patouraux. “It’s shocking to see buildings in ruins, debris littered everywhere, roads and bridges washed out, floodwaters surrounding isolated buildings and children bereft of home, family, security.”

“As the international community mobilises in response and the painful work of recovery and reconstruction gets under way the thought in everyone’s mind is ’We need better ways of preparing for and responding to these situations in future.’”

The difficulty is that radio and telephone communications with outer islands have still not yet been established — three days after the monster storm

This story from AP highlights the problem:

Radio and telephone communications with the outer islands were just beginning to be restored, but remained incredibly patchy three days after Cyclone Pam hit. People were expressing their need for help any way they could: flashing mirrors or marking an “H” in white on the ground to signal planes that were surveying the outer islands. …

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 11 people were confirmed dead, including five on Tanna, lowering their earlier report of 24 casualties after realizing some of the victims had been counted more than once. Officials with the National Disaster Management Office said they had no accurate figures on how many were dead, and aid agencies reported varying numbers.

The confusion reflects the difficulty of handling a disaster that struck whole communities on remote islands with a near-total communications blackout.

“For now the priority is to find, comfort and support the survivors and to begin repairing the damage and restoring some form of normality to these battered areas,” Christian added. “But shortly our attention must turn to preparing better for the next extreme weather event.

“As an organisation we will help now, as we are able to. And we are committed to providing practical emergency support to Vanuatu and to the governments of similarly vulnerable Pacific nations in the future.”

Tokelau selects Kacific to deliver high-speed broadband

Singapore – 5 December 2014 – Teletok, the local telecommunications company of Tokelau and sole service provider, has selected Kacific to deliver its new generation of high-speed broadband across its territory and surrounding waters.

Tokelau, composed of three small atolls situated north of Samoa, is a Polynesian territory of New Zealand with a population of just 1,400. There is no airport in Tokelau, and a chartered vessel MV PB Matua, operated under an arrangement between New Zealand and Tokelau, is the only means of transport to and from the islands at present: the trip from Apia in Samoa takes over a day. Despite its small size and remoteness, Tokelau is committed to thriving in a digital world. Although connectivity is expensive, the country has seen a pattern of moderate internet usage in recent years and a rate of internet penetration comparable to other, more populous Pacific countries.

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Vanuatu government announces a new dawn in education

The Government of Vanuatu has announced the first rollout to schools of ICT access, computer labs and tablets under a national programme. Fifteen schools will receive computer labs, and seven will receive computer tablets. The initiative will benefit nearly 9,000 students, teachers and education professionals and is supported by the Ministry of Education, the Telecommunications and Radiocommunications Regulator (TRR) and the Australian Government, through its Governance for Growth (GfG) programme.

“This aligns with Kacific’s vision of providing access to all people in Vanuatu including those in most remote and isolated locations using Ka-band HTS technology,” says Kacific CEO, Christian Patouraux.”

“Improving access to best educational practices and programmes for teachers and students alike is a major step towards of equipping next generation of Vanuatu citizens with skills and resources that will allow them to participate fully in a connected world”

Read more …

Kacific to bring fast broadband to Kiribati’s most remote islands

Singapore – 20 October 2014 – People on all of the 33 islands and atolls of Kiribati will be able to enjoy high speed broadband services from 2017, thanks to an agreement their government signed today with Kacific Broadband Satellites. Under the multi-million dollar five year services agreement, Kacific will provide the islands with 150 Mbps of bandwidth increasing to 200 Mbps over the term of the contract. Kiribati will be able to increase bandwidth in bursts of up to 50 percent on demand.

With a population of 100,000 people across 3.5 million square kilometres of islands and ocean, Kiribati is the 18th largest nation in the world in terms of its exclusive economic zone, with one of the most disseminated populations on the planet. That poses particular connectivity challenges: to date, only 6 percent of households have broadband and service is slow and expensive and it has not been economical to provide service to many of the remote islands.

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Kacific signs cooperation agreement supporting ITU’s affordable connectivity program for 11 Pacific countries

Singapore – 8 September 2014 – Kacific Broadband Satellites has signed a cooperation agreement with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the development of satellite communications capacity and emergency communications solutions for the Pacific region.

The project will establish 55 fully equipped e-centers to service communities in remote islands or rural areas in Kiribati, Micronesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Nauru and Tonga. The e-centres will all have satellite connectivity for development and emergency telecommunication.

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See ITU Announcement at SIDS 2014

Kacific inks five year satellite broadband agreement with Solomon Telekom Company Limited

Singapore – 13 August 2014 – Kacific Broadband Satellites today announced that it has signed a five year Framework Services Agreement with Solomon Telekom Company (www.ourtelekom.com.sb) to provide high speed bandwidth to the people of the Solomon Islands. The multi-million dollar agreement almost doubles the bandwidth available to Solomon Telekom and will provide high speed internet coverage to even the most remote locations in the island group.

Five high capacity beams directed from Kacific’s Ka-band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) will provide coverage to every one of the many islands that comprise the group. Despite approximately 1,500 kilometres separating the westernmost and easternmost islands, the high power Kacific coverage will provide all with equally outstanding service quality through inexpensive terminals. Coverage will extend from Choiseul and the Shortland Islands in the far west and north-west, all the way to the most northern atoll, Ontong Java, to the most eastern remote atolls of Tikopia and the Duff Islands and to the Rennell Bellona Islands in the south.

Kacific will provide Solomon Telekom with a minimum of 150 Mbps of bandwidth from 2017 until 2022. Under the agreement Solomon Telekom can, at its discretion, increase bandwidth in bursts of up to 50 percent at any time to 225 Mbps of capacity. Solomon Telekom currently has 200 Mbps of capacity.

Read full media release

Loyley Ngira (Solomon Telekom) with Jacques-Samuel Prolon (Kacific) (Small)

“Flying High” in August CommsDay

“Flying High,” in the August 2014 issue of CommsDay, looks at the latest generation of high throughput satellites poised for launch, with a particular focus on Kacific’s plans to use Ka band HTS capacity to reach the the Pacific’s 40 million people.

Says Christian Patouraux: “If you offer a good differentiator, good value for investors, there is definitely an appetite.”

Kacific estimates the total potential demand for bandwidth from Pacific Island states to be 44Gps.

According to CommsDay the universal takeout from the Australian Satellite Forum 2014 was: “There’s never been a more exciting time to be in satcomms.”

Tuvalu Telecommunications Corporation signs five year satellite broadband deal with Kacific

Singapore – 9 June 2014 – Kacific Broadband Satellites today announced that it has signed a five year agreement with Tuvalu Telecommunications Corporation (TTC) to provide high speed bandwidth to the company and the people of Tuvalu. The multi-million dollar service agreement is the first that Kacific has signed with a national telecommunications service provider.

Using a single dedicated beam directed from its Ka band High Throughput Satellite (HTS), Kacific will provide TTC with increasing levels of capacity over the period, starting with 80Mbps and ramping up to 150 Mbps after four years. Under the agreement TTC can, at its discretion, increase bandwidth in bursts of up to 50 percent at any time, meaning that in year four Kacific could provide TCC with up to 225 Mbps of capacity. To put this in perspective, today less than 20 Mbps of capacity is supplied to Tuvalu.

Tuvalu Telecommunications Corporation signs five year satellite broadband deal with Kacific