In Business Model, Internet Access, Mobile, Spectrum, Spectrum Futures Conference

In the past, price points of older satellite bandwidth caused decision makers in island countries of the Pacific and Southeast Asia to rule out satellite as an economically viable way to enable connectivity in their country, focusing on cable to power fixed and mobile internet networks, notes Cyril Annarella, Kacific executive director.

But new high-throughput satellites are changing the economics of the access business because they “allow data connections at a much lower cost per bit than older generations satellites,” says Cyril Annarella, Kacific executive director.

High throughput satellites provide as much as two orders of magnitude more throughput than earlier generation satellites, significantly reducing cost per bit profiles.

ViaSat-1 and EchoStar XVII (Jupiter-1) provide more than 100 Gbps of capacity, which is more than 100 times the capacity offered by a conventional Ku-band satellite, for example.

When it was launched in October 2011 ViaSat-1 had more capacity (140 Gbps) than all other commercial communications satellites over North America combined, to illustrate the capacity advances.

Kacific is building on several technology advances, in additon to availability of HTS. The Ka-band spectrum inherently “carries more information,” says Annarella, much as millimeter wave frequencies or even 2.5 GHz frequencies can carry more information than signals of equivalent bandwidth at 800 MHz.

Also, the success of HTS-based services in the United States,  such as Viasat and Hughes networks Jupiter, has driven the cost of user terminals well below US$500, enabling an interesting mass market value proposition that older generations of satellite services were never able to achieve, Annarella says.

In many markets, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Island nations of the Pacific, satellite might be the only affordable way to bridge the digital divide, Annarella argues.

Kacific believes there is a mass market for Internet broadband if the price to bring internet at the point-of-consumption can be brought sufficiently low. In most of its target markets, the existing choice  is mobile access at speeds no faster than 2 Mbps.

Kacific plans to provide more than that, especially using anchor sites at government buildings or schools as community access points.

In its target countries, Kacific is “currently the only possible proposition that completely addresses the requirements of universal access plans defined by the regulators,” says Annarella.

Kacific was founded mid-2013 by a group of experienced entrepreneurs with space, finance and IT background, he says.

The first phase of the project logically involved convincing potential customers of service viability and affordability, defining technical specifications and raising capital.

“This phase is now closing, and the second step of the project, finishing late 2017, will see the construction and launch of Kacific first satellite K1a, for a commercial service opening in the first quarter of  2018.

Kacific says it is a business-to-business bandwidth provider, selling to other satellite service providers such as BIGNET, telecom operators such as OurTelekom and governments including Kiribati.

In other words, Kacific will be a wholesale provider, enabling other retailers to create consumer, business or governmental services.

Annarella will discuss Kacific at the next Spectrum Futures meeting Sept. 10 and 11, 2015 in Singapore.

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