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Satellite brings broadband to game reserve

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In the more remote parts of the country, there is very little infrastructure, making it harder to provide ubiquitous broadband. Visitors to locations that are off the beaten track find that reliable Internet connections are not readily available. This can be a major inconvenience to tourists who are used to being connected 24/7, and can be a stumbling block to economic growth in these areas.
Dr Dawie de Wet, CEO of Q-KON, a satellite Internet provider, explains that many of South Africa’s game lodges are located in isolated areas, where rough terrain and physical isolation make deployment of fixed-line telecoms and Internet infrastructure too onerous and expensive. “Game lodges that are able to offer their visitors fast and reliable connectivity will set themselves apart from their competitors, as they will be able to host corporate events such as conferences, which rely heavily on connectivity.”
He says this is why Q-KON was asked on short notice to provide a satellite communication service from a remote game reserve to content studios in Johannesburg. The satellite link was required to broadcast a live video feed of conference proceedings, for distribution via a Web cast.
The video-over-IP uplink solution was implemented from a communication mobile unit, equipped with a satellite antenna and a modem terminal, over satellite to the landing station in Johannesburg. From there it was transmitted onwards to the studios via terrestrial fibre. To meet the high definition quality requirements of this specific application, provision was made to provide an uplink service of 10Mbps using Ku-band satellite services.
“Satellite communication networks provide ‘anywhere, always on’ connectivity, which readily enables deployment of satellite communication links. For this reason, satellite services are an ideal way to provide ad-hoc on-demand services for IP broadcast applications from remote locations such as game lodges. For this particular requirement for HD video, a high capacity 10Mbps uplink services was needed, which is significantly more than the typical 1Mbps or 2Mbps services that are normally used,” de Wet says.
In order to provide a reliable 10Mbps service, the Q-KON team had to ensure the mobile unit is powerful enough while still being practical for remote deployments, explains de Wet. “In addition, implementation of the link also required on-demand provisioning of space segment services and activation of the communication channel.”
He adds that for this specific project, Q-KON upgraded the transmitter power and arranged for on-demand space segment services. “This enabled us to provide the client with high capacity services while minimising costs.”
In addition to the satellite uplink service, the solution also included high-volume Wi-Fi access. This was optimised for access to a large number of simultaneous users typically present at conferences and public events. The Wi-Fi service provided broadband access, which was also implemented using the high capacity satellite communication channel.
“The need for broadband access and IP connectivity at conferences, music festivals and other public events is becoming more and more a necessity for organisers, participants and visitors,” says de Wet.
For two reasons, he says current 3G services cannot provide trusted broadband or IP connections to these events. Either because the event locations are in remote areas with limited 3G signal coverage, or the events are in good coverage areas, but the networks become congested due to the high number of public users.
“This means that service providers that need reliable broadband services or need IP connectivity for video broadcast services need alternatives such as satellite mobile services. With the Q-KON solution capable of providing uplinks of up to 10Mbps at very cost effective rates, this is becoming a real alternative for event organisers.”