Amazing Africa! An AfricaCom Round-Up

Monday 26 November 2018


Stunning Cape Town was the backdrop for this year’s AfricaCom, where both African and international exhibitors and delegates converged for the region’s largest tech and telecoms conference and exhibition. As Africa continues its digital transformation, this is the show to attend to get up close and personal with the latest developments in broadcasting and communications technology. Africa’s transformation is also mirrored in the evolving satellite industry, which is bringing new and exciting opportunities.

For Africa in particular, satellite technology has a huge role to play. Satellite knows no boundaries, and therefore fulfils delivery of essential broadband connectivity to rural and remote areas and can enable expansion of mobile networks to communities that currently have no fixed or mobile access. This connectivity is essential for socio-economic development across the continent. According to Internet World Stats, 35.2% of Africans had Internet access in 2017. As countries improve infrastructure to offer essential services such as banking, healthcare, education and governmental services, satellite offers a cost effective and easily deployed solution that is having a transformative effect on communities across Africa.

Newtec’s African adventure kicked off with SES’ Industry Day. iD18 Africa, held the day before AfricaCom, focused upon satellite communications plus new video and IP service concepts, both from a technical and commercial perspective. Jo De Loor, Newtec’s VP Market Development spoke on the future of broadcast in Africa and the innovation of platforms and devices that will shape the user experience - and the role that Newtec Dialog®, Newtec’s multiservice platform, will play in the region.

The show kicked off with the news that leading African satellite operator, NIGCOMSAT, is to deploy a second Newtec Dialog hub as it expands its enterprise, government and consumer Ka-band broadband services in Nigeria. Following on from its continued success with Newtec’s VSAT platform Newtec Dialog, NIGCOMSAT – which was founded in 2006 by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Communication Technology – will deploy the hub and thousands of Newtec’s MDM2210 IP Satellite Modems and MDM2510 IP Satellite Modems. “The ability to run multiple services over Newtec Dialog, was a key advantage for us when selecting our technology partner for this expansion as it means we can install a variety of modems and select the best one depending on the application being addressed – and all via a single platform,” said Abimbola Alale, Managing Director and Chief Executive of NIGCOMSAT. “Along with the optimal efficiency achieved via Newtec’s in-built technologies, this will allow us to quickly and cost-effectively expand our portfolio to meet the rising demand we are currently seeing across Nigeria.”

Newtec Dialog was to feature heavily at AfricaCom itself. The versatility of the platform creates new possibilities for a wide variety of different applications for broadcast, consumer and enterprise VSAT, government and defense, cellular backhaul and trunking and mobility as well as offshore and maritime markets. The buzz that Newtec Dialog has created in Africa has been significant and the team was pleased to see this reflected in visitors to the Newtec booth, wanting to find out more. The fact that Newtec Dialog enables flexibility, scalability and efficiency across such a wide variety of use cases makes it a very attractive prospect. Newtec Dialog is supporting two very significant trends in Africa – Cellular Backhaul and the emergence of satellite as a pivotal means of delivery of OTT services.

Cellular Backhaul

Africa is very much a mobile continent, with mobile devices providing the main means of access to broadband Internet and other applications such as mobile banking. This mobile revolution is fast overtaking fixed line connectivity. The challenge for Africa has always been how to ensure connectivity is ubiquitous. For such a vast continent with a large rural population, this can be very difficult (and expensive) to achieve, especially in areas where infrastructure is either lacking or non-existent.

Newtec Dialog allows mobile network operators to build and adapt their infrastructure and satellite networking according to their specific requirements. It supports Mx-DMA®, which combines the best qualities of MF-TDMA and SCPC to provide dynamic bandwidth allocation with the highest level of efficiency.

In the future, cellular backhaul projects will demand expansion into 2G, 3G and 4G, higher throughputs and wider coverage, leveraging multiservice capabilities. Newtec Dialog offers all of this and more whilst also offering optimization, efficiency and cost-effectiveness – ideal for the African market which is experiencing rapid expansion of mobile networks into rural areas.


The role of satellite in the future of broadcast is set to be integral and at AfricaCom, interest in Newtec’s proposition for OTT services had the crowds talking. Satellite has traditionally been overlooked in broadcast transmission. However, it delivers content efficiently over a vast geographical area; can be cost-effectively scaled; addresses increasing resolutions and bitrates of content; is available to remote sites when no other communication path is possible and can be used to offload congested terrestrial backbones.

As Africa moves into an era of digital viewing, and due to its high rate of mobile device adoption, OTT will form an important part of the broadcasting mix going forward. This was very evident at AfricaCom with a much interest in Newtec’s technology and its ability to allow efficient transmission and to keep costs under control. This, coupled with Newtec Dialog’s ability to help broadcasters optimize their operations, was an attractive proposition overall to AfricaCom delegates.

Newtec Dialog went the distance with the ‘Bakkie’

Finally, Newtec Partners, Stratosat Datacom, Intelsat and Liquid Telecom were part of a special road trip that took place in the days leading up to AfricaCom. Stratosat had been approached by customers that were looking for higher bandwidth solutions for terrestrial mobile connectivity and so they decided to team up with Newtec, Intelsat, Liquid Telecom and flat panel antenna manufacturer, Kymeta to discover what could be achieved. Using a SUV or ‘Bakkie’ as they are known in the region, performance tests were carried out using Newtec’s MDM3310 modem on Liquid Telecom’s Newtec Dialog platform over the Intelsat EpicNG IS-33e Ku-band satellite. The results were staggering and achieved the highest available throughput over an EpicNG satellite, even for a contended network service.

The ‘Bakkie’ then hit the road and completed the journey from Johannesburg to Cape Town, ready to showcase the solution at the event. During the epic journey, the solution was put to the test in the field, with great results.

Newtec would like to thank Stratosat Datacom, Intelsat, Liquid Telecom and Kymeta for their involvement in a very successful event!

See you next year!

The Newtec team would like to thank each and every one of you that took the time to visit us during the event. We hope that we were able to showcase how Newtec can support multiple applications across this amazing continent and we look forward to working with you today and into the future.