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Technology: a new satellite for Africa.

Satellites dedicated to Africa are oversubscribed and the bandwidths saturated. This means new broadcasters, transmitters and telephone operators cannot expand in Africa as quickly as they would like.

To solve some of the problems, a new satellite called W3A is to be launched on 16 March by Eutelsat, the European satellite agency based in Toulouse, France, and which operates such satellites as Hotbird and Atlantic Bird.

A large part of W3A's capacity will be devoted to Africa, although the capacity will be split between Europe and Africa (or linking Europe and Africa). In all, a large chunk of Africa will be covered by the satellite.

Built by the French company Astrium, the satellite's most eastern point of coverage will be Mauritius, from where Arnaud de Rosnay, W3A's project manager originally comes from.

W3A will increase capacity by about 40% over Africa which means that more operators and broadcasters will be able to transmit and use its services. Its vast and powerful coverage will also provide robust resources for the development of broadcast and broadband networks serving Europe, Africa and The Middle East.

The satellite's main users will be telephone operators and TV broadcasters, but also Call-Centres and companies involved in complex activities such as oil rigs needing to use satellite broadcasts and high performance broadband services.

One of the main objectives of W3A is to improve communications and connectivity between Africa and Europe. It is hoped this will provide a competitive advantage (or rectify the competitive disadvantage) for Africa.

W3A's launch also shows that Africa has become an important continent with huge prospects. The markets of Europe and North America are more or less saturated, and Africa offers a new and virtually untapped market. In fact, sub-Saharan Africa contains about 10% of the world's population but only 0.2% of the world's one billion telephone lines.
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Title Annotation:Feature
Publication:New African
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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