Onlime to ‘Go Local’ in New Africa Expansion Strategy – Satellite Today

Onlime Group

An Onlime Group facility. Photo: Onlime.

[Via Satellite 10-13-2014] Onlime, a business communications provider located in Germany, has made several notable capacity purchases this year in preparation for a big push into Africa. The company, which was created from the merger of CET Teleport and Limeline Group earlier this year, is using a combination of terrestrial and satellite infrastructure to provide telecommunications services to customers around the world. Less than a year from its conception, the company is now readying to expand.

“Following the restructuring and rebranding of the business that we went through earlier this year, we as an organization are now seeing a stronger inflow of opportunities to us, and the inquiries that we are getting are also much more concrete in terms of where enterprise customers are looking for business critical solutions. Hence the reason we had to go out and up the amount capacity that we currently are using to deliver services,” Paul Ziegler, CEO of Onlime, told Via Satellite.

In the six months since joining together under the same name, the new organization has purchased capacity on Gazprom Space System’s Yamal 402, Measat’s Africasat 1a and Telesat’s Telstar 11N. The goal, according to Ziegler, is to provide seamless connectivity in C and Ku band.

Onlime takes a hybrid approach to providing communications, using in-house satellite expertise and terrestrial and wireless technology where available. Beyond Germany, the company has offices in the United Kingdom, India, Sierra Leone, Angola, the UAE, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Going forward, Onlime sees Africa has its next top area for growth.

“The African continent in itself is full of opportunity,” said Ziegler. “The Internet penetration today is standing across the continent at about 16 percent, and in addition to that, the telecoms infrastructure across the continent is to a certain extent scarce and to a certain extent unreliable … therefore, that is where we see the opportunity for Onlime to come in and provide VSAT services to the African market.”

Fiber networks in Africa are growing, but primarily in coastal regions. Large inland swaths remain unreached and potentially unreachable by terrestrial networks. Furthermore, the current state of many fiber lines makes them chancy to rely on alone.

“A lot of the fiber or terrestrial infrastructure today in and across Africa is still single thread, therefore there is always the risk that those fibers will fail — and they clearly do fail. That’s where the satellite services come in and are able to complement and then also to act as a backup service to the fiber solutions,” he said.

Onlime’s biggest customers are in the oil and gas, mining and hospitality verticals. Ziegler said the small to medium enterprise customers today are using up to 2 Mbps for broadband, while larger enterprises are using 10 to 20 Mbps and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are opting for 100 Mbps. He expects these numbers to shift in the future, with SMEs jumping up to enterprise level demands and enterprise customers leaping up to 50 Mbps or more.

Ziegler said Onlime would be looking to obtain more capacity in the future, adding that High Throughput Satellites (HTS) are a way he sees satellite supporting the trend of ever-increasing demand for speed. For now, the company’s next step is to establish numerous locations across the African continent.

“I believe in two years time Onlime will be a major player in the African market with a significantly increased local footprint. We will have numerous locations where we’ll have our own points of presence and local operations with people on the ground; … we strongly believe in being close to our customers. Therefore we are investing a significant amount of resources into going local,” he said.

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