Advanced Television

Eutelsat extends Facebook sub-Saharan contract

May 7, 2021

By Chris Forrester

Eutelsat has extended its partnership with Facebook to expand its WiFi connectivity access throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Facebook will use Eutelsat’s Konnect satellite and service to expand satellite broadband in rural and underserved communities.

With Express Wi-Fi, Eutelsat aims to connect thousands of people in rural and underserved communities spanning Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana and Zimbabwe, says Eutelsat.

“Express Wi-Fi is a platform developed by Facebook Connectivity that enables partners to build, grow and monetize their Wi-Fi businesses in a scalable way, while providing their customers with fast, affordable, and reliable internet access. Express Wi-Fi is used in more than 30 countries, including in multiple Asian, South American and African markets, helping millions of people connect over Wi-Fi,” adds Eutelsat’s statement.

Eutelsat and Facebook have previously conducted successful pilots in rural and underserved areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) enabling local businesses to offer affordable internet access to customers on a pre-paid basis. To date, Eutelsat’s use of the Express Wi-Fi platform has enabled access to affordable broadband for thousands of individuals across the DRC.

The news, says Sami Kassab at investment bank Exane/BNPP, adds another distribution channel for Eutelsat Konnect with a well-recognised partner (Facebook). “Over the last three years, Echostar has developed over 5,000 Express Wi-Fi hotspots in Latin America. We believe these hotspots generate attractive ARPUs for satellite operators,” says Kassab.

“This news further underpin the idea that Eutelsat is making good progress executing on its Fixed Broadband strategy. The company reports Q3 sale on May 11th. Consensus expects operating vertical revenues of €296 million (Exane forecast is €300 million) with Video showing a 6 percent decline. We remain cautious ahead of this release in the context of an acceleration in Video revenue decline at a time when SES’s rate is improving. We rate Eutelsat as ‘minus’.”

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