Intelsat and SES have increased their coverage of Africa, targeting the broadcast market as reliance on satellite connectivity falls along coastal and some landlocked countries.
The satellite connectivity business has fallen with the growth of fiber-optic networks even though landlocked countries in central Africa are still heavily reliant on satellite for broadband access. Intelsat has the widest fleet of satellites, with 22, while SES has seven covering the region.
Entry of fiber-optic cables has resulted in affordability of satellite capacity, which has led to growth of broadcasters like HiTV in Nigeria, Top TV in South Africa and Zuku TV in Kenya, competing with DSTv, which had been the only successful satellite TV company in the region.
Two weeks ago, during the AfricaCom conference, Intelsat signed a new contract with Multichoice, the pay-TV platform for DSTv, for increased capacity on the Intelsat 904, complementing existing capacity on Intelsat 7.
"Intelsat's rich history of providing reliable and robust critical communications infrastructure to Africa, which spans more than 40 years, has resulted in many firsts on the continent; from introducing direct-to-home (DTH) platforms, to supporting reliable broadband in remote regions," said Kurt Riegelman, Intelsat's SVP of Global Sales, in a statement after the deal was announced.
SES is providing capacity to Top TV in South Africa and Zuku TV in Kenya and is expecting the growth of local TV productions to spur interest from the lower market segments, leading to uptake of satellite capacity.
"SES has seven satellites that are serving the African continent; in addition, we are launching two satellites in the coming months and further satellites in 2012 and 2013; the total investment volume is about $1 billion," said Christoph Limmer, senior director of marketing and market development for Africa at SES.
The demand for delivery of video, voice and data has also led to partnerships between satellite TV companies and mobile companies, which form some of the largest ISPs in the region. Safaricom, MTN and DSTv have an agreement for delivery of satellite TV channels via mobile phones.