Kacific satellite to provide broadband to Pacific nations
Kacific satellite to provide faster, more affordable broadband to Pacific nations
9 December 2013 – Kacific Broadband Satellites today announced plans to launch a Ka Band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) to provide enhanced broadband to 40 million people in the Pacific including the Pacific islands, New Zealand, eastern Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
According to the World Bank, the Pacific is significantly underserved in terms of broadband access. Estimated total potential demand for bandwidth by Pacific island states is 44 Gbps. Today just 20 percent, or less than 10 Gbps, is supplied. The Pacific has the highest internet pricing and the highest Skype call prices on earth. Substandard, over-contended, 1 Mbps broadband services can cost more than US$700 per month in some territories. Kacific will sell wholesale bandwidth and anticipates that telcos and ISPs will offer it to end users at speeds of up to 10 Mbps and at price points as low as 5 percent of current costs. The service will be provided through small terminals costing just a few hundred dollars.
“This will be the world’s most geographically dispersed broadband satellite footprint,” says Kacific CEO Christian Patouraux. “Our aim is to create a high quality broadband network offering direct internet access to around 99 percent of the government agencies, institutions, businesses and people within the total footprint area.”
Kacific expects to commission its launch vehicle and payload in 2014 and to provide broadband services to the region by late 2016.
Tapping the Pacific’s potential
Geographic and demographic factors present particular difficulties for the nine million people in the Pacific islands. There is a significant challenge in getting coverage – even simple connectivity – to remote locations such as the Line Islands in Kiribati, the northern atolls of the Cook Islands, the archipelago islands and scattered populations of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. And places like Tuvalu and Tokelau also face issues in providing quality coverage to their small, distributed populations.
These factors mean that Pacific island nations have two to seven times lower internet penetration than continental nations with comparable GDP per-capita and adult literacy rates. Macro-economic modelling suggests there is an untapped pool of 2,000,000 internet users in the Pacific islands and eastern Indonesia who would be connected if internet prices were in line with the rest of the world.
The World Bank notes that developing countries enjoy an increase of 1.38 percent per year in average GDP for each 10 percent increase in broadband penetration. But at penetration rates below 5 percent, which is the case in the majority of Pacific island nations, this growth does not occur.
Speed and affordability
To help address these inequalities, Kacific will provide broadband service via a payload co-hosted on a geostationary satellite. It will operate up to 48 beams, each providing coverage of 700km diameter and up to 400Mbps (duplex) throughput. Beams can be adapted to provide service to remote atolls with low populations without increasing the price of bandwidth in those locations.
“We have been highly encouraged by feedback from government agencies and internet and economic development communities throughout the Pacific,” says Patouraux. “They recognise the significance of competitively priced high availability broadband to economic growth, health and education throughout the region. High speed broadband is now a fundamental infrastructure for economic growth, employment, security and the improved delivery of essential services.
“By providing high quality broadband at a fraction of the current cost, we will allow a much larger part of the population to participate in the digital age. With support from local governments and global institutions, that will foster greater internet usage on the island, fuelling economic growth. At the pricing and speed Kacific will offer, many Pacific nations should be able to reach the critical 10 percent penetration threshold, thereby substantially lifting their GDP.”
Target customers include mobile networks (for back-hauling), primary, secondary and tertiary education institutions, hospitals and healthcare providers, hotels and airlines and tourist services, government departments, agencies and services, emergency services, aid agencies, banks and financial institutions, mining, oil and agriculture businesses, as well as small-to-medium enterprises and consumers.
Kacific will position four or five beams over New Zealand, complementing fibre networks by offering broadband service to remote areas and service assurance to customers, mitigating the impact of disruption of the fibre trunk.
Eastern Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, while more densely populated than the islands of the Pacific, have similar connectivity landscapes: broadband access is constrained, unreliable and expensive.
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Kacific Broadband Satellites Pte Ltd is a satellite operator developing a broadband offering for the underserved Pacific island market. It plans to address the gap in supply with a satellite specifically designed for this market and using the latest multi-beam and high throughput space communications technology transmitting over the Ka Band.
Kacific’s target market comprises several distinct geographic segments: the islands of the Pacific, and the land masses of New Zealand, eastern Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It plans to provide satellite coverage to the majority of the island nations in Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia including the Solomon Islands, Western Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Tokelau, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Northern Mariana, Vanuatu, Marshall Islands, Palau, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Papua, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna and Guam.
Using cost-effective technology and a lean business model Kacific will provide better broadband quality throughout the Pacific at significantly less than current retail prices, fostering greater internet usage and fuelling economic growth and improvements in service delivery in the islands.