Vodacom has announced plans to launch a satellite-based communication service for a number of African countries.
The programme aims to provide mobile connectivity to 4G and 5G through these satellites in 2023. Some of the countries include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania.
The first phase will use 20 satellites to offer low latency connectivity.
This is part of an agreement between Vodafone Group and AST SpaceMobile. AST plan to build the first global broadband cellular network that operates from space.
The aim is to make the network usable without any specialised hardware, so those connecting don't need to invest in or spend money to modify their phones.
The companies are aiming to bring connectivity to rural and remote areas in countries where Vodacom operates through this project. The companies are hoping this will improve connectivity because satellites don't rely on a steady stream of power like towers do.
This network will also fill wireless gaps, in areas where dead zones mean there is no connectivity for those living there and for those moving through the areas.
“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,” said Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub in the Vodafone statement.
“AST SpaceMobile will ensure that remote communities in many sub-Saharan African countries can have access to the latest digital services.”