Egyptian satellite company NileSat will extend its operations across Africa to tap into digital migration in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, South Africa, Angola and Nigeria.
“We are targeting digital migration opportunities within Africa... For this reason, we are pursuing new licences from the International Telecommunications Union that are essential for rollout of satellite locations in new markets,” said Mohamed El-Sawy, NileSat marketing manager.
NileSat will thus increase its investment budget by about $50 million in the near future.
Average user fees for satellite services are estimated at $250,000 per year, a price deemed too high.
“There are tangible opportunities for hosting local television channels through the digital migration system and provision of satellite back up links to ISPs. But user costs charged for satellite services are still high and ought to be reduced in order to attract more local clients. For example, the Uganda Communications Commission negotiated a one-year service contract on our behalf with Intelsat and EuroSat worth $370,000. We would prefer average user fees of about $200,000 per year in order to ensure sustainable access to these services,” said Winston Agaba, managing director of the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation.
Through digital migration, local broadcasters are exposed to vast opportunities for wider coverage, bigger audiences spread across borders and stronger interest from advertisers, experts say.
So far, popular regional television channels have gained significant mileage from digital migration efforts, with more viewers accessing a variety channels through free-to-air set top boxes.
“The growing number of television stations in the regional markets and the digital migration era offer foreign satellite companies solid opportunities for growth. Remote upcountry areas that host bank branches with little or no Internet coverage also offer some growth potential,” observed a network expert at Datanet Ltd who requested anonymity, citing confidentiality rules.
NileSat, which operates three satellites, with two more planned for launch in 2017 and 2019, offers satellite hosting services for television and radio stations, Internet connections and satellite navigation services deployed for security surveillance activities and weather forecasting.