While the evolution of the internet has served to unite the world, satellites have kept the most remote corners of the globe connected. Brandon Rochat, sales director: Expand Networks Africa, explains that satellite communications have brought networks to virtually every possible location whether on land or at sea, without needing a traditional infrastructure of cable, fibre or copper.
“Because satellite technology enables network connectivity, access to business applications is possible – keeping your staff productive regardless of their location.”
Rochat explains that globalisation has resulted in the creation of remote offices throughout the world, often in locations where there are no modern networks.
“This creates a very real challenge when it comes to keeping in contact with these branch offices. It also impacts significantly on employee productivity as the applications that enable productivity require network connectivity.”
The solution for a company like Zenith Bank with remote branches throughout Nigeria and Ghana then? Satellite communications.
While satellite is definitely the solution, this type of connectivity brings its own unique set of challenges. “Although satellites are often the ideal solution for network-challenged locations, they come with a high price tag and generally poor performance,” says Rochat.
“You have to remember that satellites orbit at over 20 000km above the surface of the earth. Simply put, the distance that your data packet needs to travel from your remote office to the server could very easily be 50 000km – one way.”
In the world of networks, distance equates with latency – considerable latency in this instance. “Add chatty applications to this equation and your performance becomes dismal at the very most.”
Additionally, using radio transport, satellites are especially prone to packet loss caused by environmental interference. With slower performance and retransmission delays, application use via satellite links can thus be extremely frustrating, and often lowers productivity as opposed to optimising it.
Although network connectivity is something either taken for granted or well-researched before making the decision to open a branch office in a remote location, certain organisations (such as NASA and the army and navy) often don’t have the luxury of network infrastructure at their disposal.
This makes it imperative to somehow optimise satellite performance – where leading provider of application acceleration solutions over the WAN, Expand Networks, comes in. By leveraging Expand’s TCP acceleration, compression and QoS capabilities, clients can ensure faster and more efficient network performance.
Rochat explains that Expand’s TCP acceleration greatly reduces the effects of latency on data transmission, while completely filling the links so that full utilisation is possible. It also significantly improves the reliability of the links counteracting retransmission delays. He says that in addition to compressing the data, Expand’s easy to use QoS ensures that the links are aligned with the business, so that business-critical applications get the bandwidth they need and don’t need to compete with unauthorised bandwidth-constraining applications.
“Our Zenith Bank implementation is the perfect example of how satellite communications can be optimised. The bank was reliant on VSAT and other wireless technologies to provide wide area network (WAN) connections between its numerous branches (geographically spread across Nigeria) and its data centre located in the capital, Lagos. By optimising its WAN we were able to deliver superior application performance to the bank’s distributed business environments.”
When it comes to expanding into remote locations then, satellite communications can be made to work and enable your business to work too. It’s all about harnessing standards-based techniques and bringing your satellite network performance up to the level where high productivity becomes your business reality.