Now here is an interesting bit of journalism. Appfrica interviews Erik van Veen of Uganda’s MTN. Erik gives his opinion of o3B, the well publicized Google backed venture to provide satellite connectivity in emerging markets, and the future of mobile in Africa. Sure, he’s got an angle to protect but interesting none the less. From the article:
Appfrica: What’s your take on Google’s move to investment in O3b Networks, the group planning to use low orbit satellites to bring 3 billion new people online? Would that put O3b in direct competition with providers like your own or are they working to form partnerships with existing entities?
Erik van Veen: Not convinced to be honest, but they are a smart company and probably know something I don’t. If Africa is to be imminently connected via fibre to the internet I struggle to see how this is going to provide a viable alternative.
With the proliferation of ever cheaper last mile wireless technologies such as WiFi and WiMax, we are able to offer broadband to nearly anywhere at relatively low cost. In fact Uganda has an over-supply of local bandwidth – we just don’t have have a large and cheap enough pipe to get from Uganda to the Internet outside. Fibre is going to shatter that bottleneck believe me.
And don’t underestimate 3G in its various guises – HSDPA and its bigger brother HSPA are magnificently fast technologies and give you all the advantages and intelligence of mobile / GSM.