Satellite services keep businesses connected

Remote locations and moving facilities enjoy always-on communications services
Yannick Decaux, is country manager for South Africa, and sales director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Orange Business Services.
Yannick Decaux, is country manager for South Africa, and sales director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Orange Business Services.

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Advancements in satellite and related access technologies are now helping technology companies to fill the gaps for customers, no matter how remotely they are placed.

Technology advancements have increased the choice available in satellite services, making it easier and cheaper for companies to achieve worldwide network coverage for unified communications and other services. Companies can now choose between traditional geosats or new satellites, considering factors such as availability, VSAT cost, ability to recover from satellite disaster, bandwidth portability, flexibility, coverage, size of antennas and cost, when choosing their preferred solution.

For developed areas, like Europe, satellite is used for back-up, increasing the overall availability, however, for hard-to-reach areas, satellite solutions play a pivotal role. Typical remote customers in need of satellite solutions can be found in the oil and gas sectors and at production facilities of multi-nationals. In addition, South African government customers are using satellite for greater diversity of connectivity and for independence from local infrastructure.

Satellite communications have changed the way that industries operate, in unexpected ways. For example, it has always been very difficult for ships to stay connected to the shore; vessels, until recently were islands on the sea with no or very little communication. But this is now about to change. With ‘always-on communications’ for a fixed price, shipping customers can now improve their business model, manage their fleet more efficiently and at a lower cost.

Orange is integrating vessels into the corporate network. And for global fleets it is providing a global coverage in both Ku and C band with the ability to switch beams and teleports when the vessel is moving from one region to the other.

Orange Business Services, the Orange branch dedicated to B2B services, has a fully integrated terrestrial and satellite network that makes it possible for employees situated in remote locations, such as mines and gas or oil exploration fields, to remain connected to their head office and other international locations, using high-quality satellite communication services. With a long history in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), Orange has operated networks in the region for over 50 years, and more than 30% of the Orange group investments are being made here.

Satellite solutions are also being deployed in banking with some major credit card companies using companies’ satellite solutions as back-up. Multi-nationals are using satellite to increase availability for running their mission-critical applications, as are humanitarian and aid organisations, simply because their operations and presence tend to be in harsh environments and remote, isolated areas. Orange Business Services has deployed over 1,000 VSAT sites in 44 countries in Africa.

Using satellite services also makes it possible to closely monitor activities and events taking place at remote locations, through machine-to-machine technology, enabling decisions to be made based on real-time information. This capability is changing the way that production is managed — and, importantly, it’s a matter of health and safety too; a hazardous site can be identified quickly, and shut down remotely to prevent injury.

Increased communication capabilities enabled by Orange Business Service’s satellite network address the ever-diminishing number of experts in industries such as oil, gas and mining. It has become too expensive to fly leaders in their fields around to global and remote sites — and it takes time. With the ability to set up a portable telepresence at each site, and another one at the head office using VSAT connectivity, it is possible to send documents, screen shots, and to transfer data quickly and effectively.

Technology companies are therefore increasing their investment in network services to provide the right mix of technologies to operate anywhere in MEA. These investments are improving satellite bandwidth for voice, video and data, and it’s about time.

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