Satellite operator SES is to place a ground station in Senegal.

The satellite firm this week said it had partnered with Orange and its local subsidiary Sonatel to place the first O3b mPOWER gateway in Africa in the country.

The ground station will be located at the Sonatel teleport in the Senegalese territory of Gandoul, among other local satellites antennas.

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SES said the gateway will be used by Sonatel and Orange to deliver connectivity services throughout Africa, and allow. SES to support telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) functions for the O3b mPOWER fleet.

“The Sonatel teleport is Senegal’s pride, as it was home of the very first 30-meter satellite dish to be installed in Africa ever. Not only has Senegal played a key role in developing the telecommunication industry in the African continent for the last 50 years, but we will also continue to lead in bringing new technologies to the market with the introduction of O3b mPOWER, a next-generation MEO satellite network,” said Sekou Drame, CEO of Sonatel.

O3bmPOWER is SES’ new medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite network to provide communications services. The network of 11 satellites is due to come online at the end of March 2022.

“We have partnered with Orange to improve cellular backhaul and Internet connectivity for its African affiliates, and to enable enhanced operations for its enterprise customers,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES. “With a gateway located in Senegal, this new partnership will enable Sonatel and Orange to deliver more bandwidth more flexibly via O3b mPOWER to remote and underserved regions, helping ensure that everyone across Africa becomes truly connected with no one left behind.”

In February 2020, Orange and SES announced that Orange will be the first global telecom operator to integrate O3b mPOWER in its network to support, starting in the Central African Republic.

“At Orange, we continue to believe that satellite remains a promising technology and that the many innovations it currently showcases will give it an increasingly growing position in the telecommunication field, in Africa as well as other countries that have more developed infrastructures such as Europe or North America," added Jean-Luc Vuillemin, EVP, of Orange International Networks.

The first African ground station was installed in Senegal in 1972 by the state-owned company that would eventually become Sonatel. That satellite was dismantled in 2020 due to its deterioration and safety fears.

Last year SES announced it was colocating a number of O3bmPOWER ground stations at Microsoft data centers; the cloud company is also establishing its own ground segments at its facilities.

Last week saw SES sign a new agreement with Indian telco Jio to provide satellite communications in the country. The two companies have agreed to form a new joint venture known as Jio Space Technology that will aim to deliver affordable broadband services; Jio itself would be the anchor customer in a $100 million deal.

SES also signed a distribution deal with Marlink this month.

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