The case for rural data services and satellite backhaul


Mobile operators are now facing a plethora of challenges to maintain the high levels of profitability they are accustomed to. Issues including increased regulation, heightened competition from the traditional mobile value chain and new competitors from the Internet world are starting to seriously challenge operators.

Furthermore, internal challenges including the rapid growth of traffic – without the respective revenue growth – and saturated urban markets are making operators look for new  areas of growth, particularly organic growth.

A new Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation now being launched by O3b is expected be a more suitable technology for rural backhaul since it is more cost-effective and it is well positioned for data services.

Informa Telecoms & Media performed economic modeling for a rural network with a variety of backhaul technologies and concluded that MEO-driven backhaul is the most effective technology, assuming that data services are significant in rural areas and require in excess of 2Mbps in backhaul capacity. Above this threshold, the superior opex performance of MEO backhaul performs better than the rest of the technologies assessed.

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