People on all of the 33 Pacific islands and atolls of Kiribati will be offered high speed satellite-based broadband services from 2017, via an agreement struck yesterday between the Kiribati government and Kacific Broadband Satellites. SatNews reports that under the multi-million dollar, five-year services agreement, Kacific will provide the islands with 150Mbps of bandwidth increasing to 200Mbps over the term of the contract. Kiribati will be able to increase bandwidth in bursts of up to 50% on demand. Kacific will deploy four high power beams from its Ka-band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) to cover the entire population of Kiribati: two directed on the Gilbert Islands group, one on the Line Islands group and another on the raised coral island, Banaba.
Kiribati’s Minister of Communications, Transport and Tourism Development, Rimeta Beniamina, announced: ‘It is very important that we in the Pacific are not left behind in terms of connectivity. Kacific’s proposition and pricing, and speed of connectivity are ideal for the Pacific especially for providing service to outlying islands.’ The agreement comes at a time when the island nation is preparing to privatise its state-owned operator Telecom Services Kiribati Limited (TSKL), and Beniamina said that the pending privatisation, due to take place ‘in November’, means that the agreement with Kacific has considerable strategic importance as a way of ensuring a future universal service for all islands, including the most remote ones. The minister added: ‘While it is to some extent inevitable that the new owners of TSKL will concentrate on serving South Tarawa and other population centres, this agreement will ensure that our remote islands will be able to enjoy a connected future. When Kacific launches, we will allocate bandwidth to the new owners to ensure adequate coverage on the outer islands.’
Kiribati also plans to use Kacific’s satellite service in conjunction with TSKL’s existing 3G and 4G LTE mobile network, using the satellite service for backhaul. ‘Kacific’s pledge is to provide an affordable, universally accessible national broadband service,’ said Kacific CEO Christian Patouraux. ‘We can do this where other technologies have struggled. There is today simply no alternative to Kacific’s proposed access, speed and affordability in the Pacific. Using fully proven technologies, Kacific will make a direct high speed internet connection available to every government agency, institution, business and family in the footprint area. Wherever they live in the nation, the people of Kiribati will enjoy a broadband service equivalent to those in more densely populated nations.’ Kacific expects to launch its Kacific-1 satellite by ‘early 2017’ and to provide operational service shortly thereafter, enabling all of Kiribati to receive coverage using a small, low cost dish antenna.