Infrastructure | Satellite
March 18, 2020

How Kacific works to boost connectivity in Pacific Island States

by ITU News

ITU and Kacific Broadband Satellites Group (Kacific) have partnered to boost the capacity of Pacific Island States, in particular to remote and outer islands, using satellite communications. This increased connectivity will help foster socio-economic development in the region – for example, by providing access to online education tools for children in Samoa – and is vital to ensuring a reliable communications network when disasters strike.

ITU News spoke to Christian Patouraux, CEO and Founder, Kacific Broadband Satellites, to learn how Kacific is working to provide affordable broadband connectivity for underserved communities in remote and rural areas across the Asia-Pacific region.

How will the new HTS Ka-Band Satellite (called Kacific1) offer affordable broadband connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region?

Kacific1 is a next-generation geostationary satellite operating in the ka-band frequency spectrum. Its 56 high-throughput beams cover approximately 600 million people in Asia and the Pacific. Many of these people live in archipelagos or rugged mountain ranges and large rural territories, making satellite broadband technology the best – and sometimes only – way to connect to the internet. For these communities, it is important to not only provide access, but equally important to ensure affordability as well.

High throughput satellites (HTS) take advantage of frequency reuse and multiple spot beams to increase throughput and reduce the cost per bit delivered, therefore lowering costs for our customers overall. There is also no need for expensive and complicated equipment setup on the ground. Users are able to access internet from Kacific1 with small, low-cost and maintenance-free satellite dishes, which can be transported to remote locations by boat, car or even on foot. The dishes only require low levels of electric power to operate and can easily be solar-powered.

By combining next-generation satellite technology with a lean business model, we’re able to connect previously unserved or under-served people in nations where populations are widely dispersed and expensive to connect, with affordable and reliable broadband connectivity – at a fraction of the current costs.

How will this boost economic growth and improve people’s lives in specific ways?

The benefits of internet access in rural areas are well documented – research by the World Bank has found that improved internet access could bring in more than 5 billion dollars to the economy in the Pacific alone, and create close to 300,000 new jobs by 2040. Being able to connect to the internet will allow people in rural communities to market their goods and services to a much larger audience, connect remotely with health services that previously required hours of driving, embark on e-learning and facilitate digital services like loan applications and government services.

Kacific presently supplies connectivity to the Vanuatu Interisland Telemedicine and Learning (VITAL) Network, which has connected clinics in remote communities and has already saved several lives in emergency situations by connecting nurses to specialist doctors in urban hospitals. Kacific1 will widely expand these types of applications across Asia Pacific.

The benefits of internet access in rural areas are well documented.

Kacific also powers digital healthcare in Timor-Leste, where it has connected 75 clinics to improve the distribution of vital medicines, equipment and patient information nationwide.

Apart from health and education, internet access in remote areas also opens up critical communications channels to a region which is often victim to tropical storms, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

A long-standing view in the satellite industry is that Ka-band was not suitable for regions with heavy rains as can be encountered in the Asia-Pacific Region. How is Kacific coping with this issue?

Even though rain is an unavoidable reality in this region, ITU studies have shown that Ka-band broadband satellites were substantially less affected by rain-fade than previous modelling suggested. Nevertheless, Kacific employs multiple, proven techniques for rain fade compensation such as site diversity and adaptive coding and modulation (ACM) to address this issue. In fact, we recently tested a Ka link that delivered consistent speed through a rain event in Indonesia.

My greatest joy so far has been seeing how satellite broadband internet can change people’s lives for the better, and I look forward to hearing more success stories in the future.

While we wish we could control the weather, thanks to technological advances over the years, Ka-band satellites are now able to maintain a signal and mitigate the effects of rain fade, thereby allowing for consistent and reliable internet connectivity in good weather, while maintaining communications in bad weather.

What are you looking forward to most about Kacific’s cooperation agreement with ITU to provide emergency communications solutions for Pacific countries?

In many ways, Kacific1 will be a game changer for those living in remote communities that have previously been underserved by fibre broadband. We recently developed an emergency communications product that can be dropped in the middle of a disaster area to create a high-speed broadband zone for rescue responders and survivors, which will help to increase disaster preparedness for vulnerable islands in the Pacific.

My greatest joy so far has been seeing how satellite broadband internet can change people’s lives for the better, and I look forward to hearing more success stories in the future.

Why is having a social mission important for Kacific and how does that align with the company’s business goals?

Kacific’s tagline is “The Heart of Broadband” because we are committed to using proven space technologies to solve the lack of affordable broadband in remote and underserved regions. When our satellite launched in December last year in Florida, there were four words emblazoned on the rocket fairing – “A Force for Good”. We put that phrase there because we believe that business can and should be a force for good.

At Kacific we believe that if you put “good” at the heart of your business, you create a win-win situation for all. Your business will not only address fundamental human and societal needs, but the revenue it generates will also interact with the good at its core and create sustainability and business resilience.

While we’ve already seen some of the life changing effects that internet has on remote communities in the Pacific, we will see a new generation of children, safely born thanks to telemedicine, reaching school age and starting to learn with access to global information. They will be living proof of our Force for Good.

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How Kacific works to boost connectivity in Pacific Island States

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