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ViaSat signs US$53 million contracts for RascomStar-Qaf's new African infrastructure

Low-density telephony with an Internet option will become more widespread across Africa thanks to two contracts signed by ViaSat and satellite operator RascomStar-Qaf. Valued at US$53 million, the VSAT terminals in the contract are due for delivery between this year and 2011.

ViaSat and pan-African satellite operator RascomStar-Qaf have signed contracts valued at US$53 million for ViaSat to deliver satellite systems for high-capacity infrastructure communications. Pan-African telephony and data transfer between regional and national capitals are the immediate benefits as is rural telecommunications access across Africa, all courtesy of  RascomStar-Qaf VSAT terminals.

The RascomStar-Qaf Telecommunication Services network (R*TES) is designed to provide low density telephony and optional Internet access. Very low-powered, R*TES will combine multiple low-rate telephone circuits, while minimising power consumption, making them ideal for solar operation. High-speed Internet connection is an optional feature. The ViaSat network design includes multi-transponder operation that enables seamless connections no matter the location of the rural terminal within the African continent.

In addition, the RascomStar-Qaf Broadband Connectivity Services (R*BCS) telephone and IP trunking network is based on ViaSat LinkWay(R)S2 networking terminals and 7.3-meter gateway antenna systems. Gateways are scheduled for installation between late 2009 and mid - 2010.

Overall, this addition to the African telecoms infrastructure is in need of a full turnkey system approach, with ViaSat providing full system responsibility: system engineering, integration, logistic support, installation, training and an initial 12 months of in-region network operation support.

"The construction and deployment of ViaSat R*BCS and R*TES infrastructure will enable RascomStar-Qaf to realise its mission of delivering affordable telecommunications services throughout Africa," said Faraj Elamari, CEO of RascomStar-Qaf. "These satellite-based systems will reach rural areas of Africa that no other telecommunications infrastructure can support on a cost-effective basis. Our goal is to establish a modern, African telecommunications standard that will rely on resources within Africa."

Beyond the first phases of the RascomStar-Qaf programme covered by these contracts, the full build-out is envisaged to entail the deployment of as many as 100 gateways and over 100,000 terminals. African telecom operators subscribing to satellite added-value services using the R*BCS and R*TES infrastructure will also have access to operations and business support systems that enable them to manage their local customer accounts.

* RascomStar-Qaf is an African company based in Mauritius under a concession from Regional African Satellite Communications Organisation (RASCOM), an intergovernmental treaty organisation representing the interests of 45 African telecommunications operators. The company's shareholders are RASCOM, Libya Africa Investment Portfolio (LAIP), and Thales Alenia Space. RascomStar-Qaf's prime objective is to provide satellite capacity and telecoms services for national and international public communications service providers across Africa. RascomStar-Qaf launched its first satellite RASCOM-QAF1 on Ariane V in December 2007; it provides pan-African coverage with multiple Ku- and C-band spot beam transponders until its transition to equivalent service on the RASCOM -QAF1R satellite to be launched in mid-2010.

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