Safaricom PLC (Kenya’s largest telecommunications company) has officially announced its plans to launch satellite internet in Kenya.
Vodafone Group PLC, Safaricom’s parent company has signed a contract with AST SpaceMobile (Starlink’s rival) to partner in this project. This collaboration will enable Safaricom to leverage AST SpaceMobile’s technology and infrastructure to offer reliable satellite-based connectivity to its customers in Kenya.
Moreover, Safaricom’s satellite Internet service will enhance broadband offerings, including Wi-Fi, cellular networks, and fibre optic cables.
Coincidentally, Safaricom’s satellite internet is being released at the same time as SpaceX’s Starlink is being launched in Kenya.
Initial testing of the AST SpaceMobile prototype satellite (Bluewalker 3) took place on September 10th 2022. The spacecraft was built with an aperture of 693 square feet to establish connectivity with cell phones via 3GPP-standard frequencies.
The satellite is scheduled to undergo official trials in Kenya later this year, involving Safaricom and other African operators. The trial will span 49 countries across Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean, utilizing 200 satellites.
“After successful completion of the trial, AST SpaceMobile will scale up their satellite deployments in partnership with Vodacom to provide ubiquitous communications to 4G devices across Africa and beyond.“
AST SpaceMobile is a publicly traded satellite designer and manufacturer based in Midland Texas, United States. The company is building the SpaceMobile satellite constellation, a space-based cellular broadband network that will allow existing, unmodified smartphones to connect to satellites in areas with coverage gaps.