Current Issue 52
Having been present in Africa for more than a decade, global communications Company, Gilat Satcom has been focused on ways to diversify its revenue streams and remain ahead of the growing competition on the continent
Enabling Connectivity with Value-Added Solutions
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
With the level of communication continuously growing in Africa and the unprecedented growth and utilisation of technology to enhance businesses, civilian life and industry, leading communication service provider, Gilat Satcom intends to grow into the value-added products and services that bolster the background management of cellular operations, ISP’s and banks to shape the future of technology on the continent.
With a growing global satellite and fibre connectivity presence in 50 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, the Company represents the international arm of the US$7.5 billion Eurocom Group, created with the purpose of extending the reach of the Group into new markets and adding further value to telecommunication and satellite services.
Eurocom, the largest privately-owned holding Company and largest telecommunications Group in Israel, offers a full suite of telecommunications services including landline, cellular, DBS and ISP services for the various governments, NGOs and cellular networks.
“Leveraging this strong Group backing and communications infrastructure, Gilat Satcom has been able to access larger and more complex projects and also advance its communication channels to remain at the cutting edge of innovation, answering each individual market’s needs on a case-by-case basis,” explains Dan Zajicek, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gilat Satcom.
“An Afro-Israeli Company”
Gilat Satcom’s strategic move into Africa was a result of prior industry knowhow garnered from the market in Israel, allowing the Company to utilise its wider expertise to deploy a similar strategy in a new location. Having held a presence on the continent for more than a decade, the Company is very much aware of the rapid technology changes sweeping the continent, and the continual improvements to background infrastructure.
“With Africa representing more than 80 percent of its revenue stream, Gilat Satcom is well rooted in Africa. The continent is experiencing a technological revolution and we are at the forefront of this, not only introducing high-tech solutions to those who can afford it, but creating innovative solutions to close the digital gap,” says Zajicek.
“Together with Raga, our partner in DRC, we have installed and now operate the first O3B PoP in Africa. We are also shareholders in WIOCC, one of Africa’s biggest fibre network players; therefore representing our excellent cost base - both on EASSY in the east and WACs in the west - from which to expand our capacity and gain an even stronger footprint on the continent,” he further details.
This wise investment began seeing dividends for Gilat Satcom, with Cellcom, Bharti Airtel, Orange, Vodacom and many other telecommunications companies benefitting from a longstanding partnership and high quality service level agreements (SLAs).
Moreover, the changing nature of SLAs and quality of service has meant a stronger demand for a higher level of security and visibility; as well as cost-effective, tailored solutions for the customer. For Gilat Satcom, this was a blessed challenge.
Zajicek adds: “Set apart by our ability to execute complicated solutions in accordance with time and budget constraints, we now see a bigger demand coming from the rural areas in Africa and are adapting and shaping these solutions to fit around this new market; connecting more customers to sub-services such as cell networks and enterprise solutions.”
As fibre began to take Africa by storm in 2010, the telecommunications architecture surrounding this evolved, making connecting to the internet much cheaper. This improved infrastructure prompted Gilat Satcom to introduce new value-added services to distinguish itself from the competition by focusing on not just infrastructure, but the resultant services from this. Moreover, as fibre capacity increased, the requirement for security products started to arrive in response to the increased chance of attacks.
In response to this, Gilat Satcom invested in DDoS security, an ongoing managed and secure service to protect customers from spam and cyber threats. “Our security services enable us to provide customers with a clean and efficient channel from the offset, as we clean the channel of spam from our PoP in Europe and the US, resulting in a higher net capacity on both an international and local scale. For the customer, this means a more effective use of data and more megabytes per dollar, making it more cost-effective for those who choose us,” explains Zajicek.
Epic Service prelaunch
Leveraging its strong relationship with Intelsat, Gilat Satcom is already rolling out its new, high-throughput satellite (HTS) service and EPIC contracts, a year before the first satellite is launched.
Eran Yoran, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Business Development explains the process: “Our motto is ‘the future is coming… get connected’, and is representative of our desire to be at the front of innovation. In the case of HTS, our customers today are already signing EPIC contracts. We serve them today from an existing Intelsat satellite that will be replaced with a new EPIC one; however, we are already providing the capacity and pricing that the customer will gain from EPIC.”
Not only will this increase satellite capacity and value for money for the customer, but while they wait for the new satellite to be launched, Gilat Satcom has a whole host of value-added services that they can access as part of their long-term contract in the meantime.
The CEO adds: “Becoming EPIC HTS-ready is our way of looking toward the future, by investing in the best technology ahead of time and making it available to our customers first. Our customers are among the first in Africa to experience this technology.”
Push-to-talk over satellite
In addition to traditional services, Gilat Satcom is a mobile satellite services (MSS) expert, holding a strong relationship with both Iridium and Inmarsat. Due to its relationship with Israeli defence forces, Gilat Satcom was chosen as one of a handful of Iridium partners to distribute Iridium’s new PTT platform around the world.
Zajicek states: “Working closely with Iridium, a mobile satellite communications Company, we recently launched the PTT service; a smarter, more cost-effective and more secure way of communicating either as a group or as individuals.
“Essentially, PTT is a global-range walkie-talkie that has proven extremely beneficial to world security organisations, NGOs and the military; as well as presenting many advantages for civilian and business use across aviation, maritime and enterprise.”
As security needs are rising, PTT technology is becoming more and more important, especially in Africa where vast areas of the country do not receive full coverage by any other means except satellite; and in other parts of the world where the security forces are in a need of a reliable and secure one-to-many solution.
“Adding to this are two other unique products; Suricate and SuricatePRO. This revolutionary communication solution provides users in underground and other closed facilities with the ability to communicate over standard satellite phones or satellite systems without having to leave their secure surroundings,” Yoran adds.
Ensuring a high level of service from its staff and subcontractors via a strict training framework and facility, 2016 is to revolve around the value-add for Gilat Satcom; a consequence of its hard work and huge investments in a strong infrastructure backbone, extensive market research and longstanding partner network.
“Today, Gilat Satcom is a multi-faceted Company that has evolved beyond satellite communication, embracing the latest industry innovations and practices as communications become better and more affordable. We work closely with our customers to understand their future challenges, and invest to give them a competitive edge,” Yoran summarises.
Zajicek concludes: “As a Company that provides both satellite and fibre to African customers, installing a data centre in one of our PoPs come as a natural choice for us in 2016. Innovation is something that is very much rooted within our DNA, therefore our desire to address the biggest trends with the best products and services is unparalleled in the industry; directly reacting to the growing interest in data, cloud and subsequent products such as security and enterprise solutions to enable Africa to reach its full potential.