Vodacom to roll out satellite-based network in Africa

South African mobile communications company, Vodacom, is considering to offer mobile connectivity with 4G and 5G speeds through a satellite-based communications service in several African countries in 2023.

This agreement is a collaboration between Vodacom Group and AST SpaceMobile, which is developing the world’s first global broadband cellular network in space to be used directly with standard, unmodified mobile devices. In order to develop this, twenty satellites will be used to provide low-latency mobile connectivity for approximately 1.6 billion people in 49 countries of the world’s equatorial regions.

According to a statement from Vodacom, “the initial service will target an area north and south of the equator, including rural and remote areas of a number of markets where Vodafone will integrate the technology into the services provided by its Vodacom, Safaricom and Vodafone brands”.

The CEO of Vodacom Group, Shameel Joosub specified that in order to offer reasonable mobile coverage, a blend of technologies and infrastructure are required comprising of traditional masts and small cells, balloons, and satellites at the edge of space.

Joosub added, “While we have been adding deep rural network sites to connect remote communities without any coverage, the lack of power in some areas creates insurmountable obstacles. AST SpaceMobile will ensure that remote communities in many sub-Saharan African countries can have access to the latest digital services.”