Intelsat and AMN join forces to expand cellular coverage across Africa
By Joseph Ekeng
In a strategic move to enhance telecommunications accessibility across Africa, global satellite operator Intelsat and Africa Mobile Networks (AMN) have unveiled plans to broaden cellular coverage in key markets, propelling future growth on the continent.
Since 2018, Intelsat and AMN have successfully deployed over 3,000 rural base satellite antennas across various African countries, facilitating phone and internet services for more than 8 million people. This initiative has played a crucial role in bridging the digital gap, connecting communities that were previously underserved.
Notably, AMN’s largest network resides in Nigeria, boasting over 1,350 sites. In a remarkable stride, an additional 450 sites have been added since June 2023. This expansion has extended phone and internet services to more than 3.5 million people in Nigerian communities that were previously devoid of connectivity.
Jean Philippe Gillet, SVP of Global Sales for Networks and Media at Intelsat, expressed enthusiasm about the impact of this collaboration, stating, “Through this commitment to bridging the digital divide, we’ve made a significant impact, and we look forward to furthering our mission of connectivity, ensuring that more communities can access the benefits of telecommunication services.”
Looking ahead, Intelsat and AMN have set their sights on additional operations in Madagascar, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. AMN has ambitious plans to construct over 1,340 rural base stations in these new markets, continuing their mission to connect the unconnected.
Mike Darcy, CEO of AMN, emphasized the importance of the partnership with Intelsat, stating, “Intelsat is a very important partner to AMN. Our strategic partnership has provided essential telecommunication services to 8 million people across Africa, and we look forward to growing that number over the coming years.”
The collaboration leverages Intelsat’s multi-satellite African coverage and AMN’s solar-powered tower solution. This synergy ensures that citizens and businesses in virtually any community can access the educational, social, and economic benefits of telecommunication services.
AMN specializes in connecting communities, reducing upfront and ongoing equipment costs while enabling cell services to reach areas where traditional deployment was economically unviable. The use of satellites for “backhaul” connectivity to remote cell towers is integral to this business model, overcoming challenges posed by location and terrain that limit the use of fiber-optic cable and microwave solutions.
In the words of AMN CEO Mike Darcy, “Our strategic partnership has provided essential telecommunication services to 8 million people across Africa, and we look forward to growing that number over the coming years.” This collaboration stands as a testament to the transformative power of technology in fostering connectivity and growth in underserved regions.
Experts believe that the expansion of cellular coverage in Nigeria by Intelsat and AMN poses significant implications for established telecom companies like MTN, Glo, and Airtel. This development is expected to intensify competition as new players enter previously underserved markets.
Overall, this expansion is likely to reshape the telecommunications sector in Nigeria, fostering both challenges and opportunities for industry players.