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o3b - Affordable Internet

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Ex Member
Ex Member

May 29th, 2009 at 7:45pm  
Google through other partnerships is planning on delivering affordable Internet to the worlds emerging economies. I am interested in working what an appropriate architecture would be to cover the length and breadth of Ghana. i.e. 672 km lengthwise and 560 width wise.

Here is the two alternatives they gave me:

"11.         Ghana coverage - to cover the whole of Ghana we would require multiple beams as our beams have a diameter of 500km.

2.         Equipment requirement - it would be depend on what you sign up for. If you sign up for the Tier 1 - Quick Start program then we will deliver the satellite equipment as well as the router kit that will allow you to terminate your IP traffic from your network in Ghana.  This IP trunk will then be connected to our gateway in Southern Europe from where we can connect you to the Internet backbone.  We would not be supplying any of the local (in Ghana) network equipment that you would use to connect to your clients.

In the Tier 2 requirement we would be installing the required satellite equipment in our gateway that would allow the smaller VSAT terminals that would be installed at the clients in Ghana to communicate with the gateway. In this case you would procure and install the VSAT equipment at the client locations."

But not knowing much about how satellite communication works I haven't been able to make much of it and would appreciate any insight on how to design a solution in Ghana that can use that system. I can send documents to interested persons via e-mail.

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Eric Johnston
YaBB Moderator

Posts: 2109
Reply #1 - May 30th, 2009 at 6:09pm  
Read more here about the O3B project.  It is quite amazing, like a series of giant 12 legged insects striding round the equator and plonking their feet in exactly the right places for teleports and customer service.

Their Tier 1 service, involves aiming (and tracking) the centre of a satellite beam directly at your antenna site.  The antenna site, comprising two >3.5m Ka band motor driven tracking antennas, will be provided and installed by O3B and is intended to provide a trunk traffic connection to a teleport, e.g. in southern Europe, connected to the terrestrial internet.  180 MHz of bandwidth will be available both ways.  Bit rates will depend on the dish size, modems, modulation method and the weather.

To make good use of such capacity you need your site located where you have the possibility of connecting up a large number of customers. Although the site equipment would be provided by O3B you would need to make a local terrestrial network investment in wireless, cable etc to local businesses, phone companies, cafes etc. 300 Mbit/s would serve 20,000 PCs, at 15kbit/s per PC.  Having a single high bit rate portal to the internet is similar to a submarine fibre cable arriving at the coast.  If you can get a price for just a few Mbit/s, bought at the antenna site then that would suit a smaller local network, as you are not committing to buy the full 300 Mbit/s.

There are 10 customer beams on the satellite and I would expect some to be used for Tier 1 access as above, while others are used for Tier 2 access. In Tier 2 access mode they suggest 10-50 cell phone sites per beam, each with 2 - 10 Mbit/s.  I note that the customer is to be responsible for buying the Tier 2 sites, which will each involve pairs of 1.2 - 1.8m antennas.  This is more like current VSAT operation with the difference that the pairs of antennas will be very "hi-tech" and require motor tracking all of the time. The 16 O3B satellies will keep rising in the west, going almost directly overhead (for south Ghana), and setting in the east and the antennas will need to keep flipping back alternately, every 90 minutes or so.  iDirect have been preparing for Tier 2 operations and reviewing the problems of doppler shift on modem performance. In Tier 2 mode it is envisaged that the sites will be located across the full diameter of the 450km beam. If more than one beam is needed consider how they might be best pointed to share with an adjacent country.

The O3B project is very impressive but its novelty does means that all involved will, to some extent, be risk taking pioneers.  If it works it will certainly help with communications for people in equatorial countries.

The alternative is to continue with the traditional GEO satellite service.  Prospects for GEO are for gradual price reductions at best, rather then the dramatic price reduction that is expected with O3B.  To compare Tier 1 services ask about leasing entire transponders and useage with larger dishes and 16QAM.  To compare Tier 2 compare with prices for dedicated medium sized dish VSAT service, such as Comtech CDM570L with adaptable demand assigned SCPC.  Tier 3, direct to the small business, cafe or home, is not mentioned; I guess because the cost, skills and maintenance of the tracking antenna systems is too much to contemplate.  Traditional VSAT developments may well move to a multi-spot Ka Band system for Africa, perhaps as a follow on to the European KA-SAT (Eutelsat/ViaSat/DOCSIS), similar to Wildblue and Tooway.

Best regards, Eric.
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« Last Edit: Apr 7th, 2016 at 10:24am by Admin1 »  
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Reply #2 - Aug 1st, 2009 at 3:05pm  

Dear Abdullah,

     Am traveling to ghana this month, I would be happy to provide you with a solution for ghana because am trying to do start something there.

Best Regards,

Khaled Samin
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