Africa Mobile Networks (AMN) have announced that they have entered into a commercial agreement to use Starlink, SpaceX's constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit, to connect AMN's mobile network base stations with high-speed, low-latency broadband services, to serve even in the most remote and rural communities around the world.
AMN is committed to its vision of a fully connected world, where no community of any significant size is without telecommunication services for the social, educational and economic benefit of the population.
AMN has made significant strides towards this vision, with telecommunication services now accessible by over 10 million people in nearly 4,000 communities across 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa as a direct result of AMN towers.
AMN's own Radio Access Network (RAN) technology enables 2G (GSM) plus 3G (HSPA+) or 4G (LTE) services to be delivered from a single radio node installed on its low-cost base stations. The announcement brings this vision closer than ever and enables AMN to offer 3G and 4G services to rural communities with high quality of service and delivery of ever-increasing amounts of bandwidth and data volumes demanded by subscribers whilst remaining economically sustainable.
Mike Darcy, CEO at AMN Group, said: "The low-latency and high-speed backhaul from Starlink combined with AMN's flexible ARN allows us to deliver 3G and 4G – and later 5G – services to remote communities anywhere in the world. We are already moving quickly in Nigeria – where we have more than 1,000 base stations in service today – to connect more unconnected communities, and we see huge appetite for data services in many of these locations. By working with Starlink, we can support significant growth both in terms of site count and the services we are offering".
AMN's ARN is a flexible multi-carrier and multi-technology (2G/3G/4G) radio node which can operate with up to 5 simultaneous carriers in either 2G+3G or 2G+4G configuration. It can support up to 5,000 subscribers per node, or up to 15,000 subscribers on AMN's 20m towers with 3 sectors. AMN manufactures ARN in the UK and has recently expanded its production line to manufacture approximately four thousand units each year.
"We are excited to work with AMN on our shared vision of a fully connected world," said Chad Gibbs, SpaceX's Vice President of Starlink Business Operations. "Today's announcement for the first cellular network in Africa to use Starlink for backhaul is an important milestone to provide high-speed connectivity for the first time to millions across the continent, especially those in rural and remote communities."
AMN plans to deploy Starlink terminals at sites in Nigeria within 2023 as part of a wider project to connect 700 additional rural communities before the end of the year. AMN currently operates over one thousand sites in Nigeria, and expects to reach two thousand by the end of Q2 2024.
In addition to 10,000 base stations in Africa, AMN has recently started service in Latin America and in 2024 will start to offer services in Asia.