Thursday, 4 October 2012

NATC is now an ISP

Contributed by Farzana Rasheed

NATC is pleased to announce we have signed our first V-SAT contract with one of our premium clients! This represents NATC's entry into the V-SAT market. 

Although the fibre optic cable has landed in Liberia, it will take some time before it is commercialised and operationalised in Monrovia. We imagine it will take even longer for areas outside of the capital. 

An article in the FT's recent Special Report "Doing Business in Liberiadiscusses the expected positive changes that will finally arise out of the submarine cable's landing since last year:

Last November, the 17,000km Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable, managed by France Telecom, made landfall in Monrovia, and will eventually link 21 countries along the west Africa coast and western Europe. Ericsson, the Swedish telecoms company, is building the “dry” fibre-optic network on land that will connect to the undersea cable and offer the first genuine broadband service in the country. The system is expected to go live in December.

The article indicates that the first to enjoy broadband will be government institutions and large businesses such as banks. 

Our question as a business operating in Liberia is how can IT companies participate? Who will be 'selling the broadband'? What kind of pricing and standards can we expect? 

Meanwhile, we at NATC are very much cognizant of the ground realities i.e. it will take time before even the first few are able to enjoy broadband in Monrovia, let alone Liberia. December sounds too good to be true!

Internet is still going to be quite pricey for time to come and, only available through V-SAT technology or via GSM for users in Monrovia. As for the rest of Liberia, where the real acute challenges of building infrastructure from scratch lie, V-SAT and GSM technologies are going to be the only options. In other words, in a country with few or non-existent roads, how are we going to bring broadband to the bush?

Meanwhile, making an entry into the V-SAT market is a sound direction for NATC since many of its clients have offices and sites of operations outside of Monrovia. 

We have been working on our first deal for almost a year now - convincing our client to ditch their existing ISP and give us a try! We are in fact handling almost all their IT needs - from supplies to all on-site services and back support. We are even helping our client to better control their bandwidth through an ingenious web-based platform. After at least 2 years of full support, having built their network, and provided continuous support across their offices, we felt we were in a position to become their ISP. In fact, we won the contract for Internet Services in a competitive bidding process. 

What was interesting was that we negotiated a deal with the satellite provider to give us double the bandwidth at a much more competitive rate. 

NATC is quite excited to have secured our first V-SAT deal and, look forward to implementing it successfully to our client's satisfaction and beyond. 

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