Sky Vision remains committed to Nigeria’s ICT market
SkyVision is a leading global IP telecommunication service provider to emerging markets, offering solutions over satellite and fiber optic network systems. The company consistently serves the Nigerian market with innovative cutting edge products and services. In this interview with its Chief Executive Officer, DORON BEN SIRA, he shares with eT Edge News MARTIN EKPEKE that even though hybrid satellite-cable approach has not been utilized enough to expand internet and ICT penetration to many regions of the Africa continent, a combination of satellite and fiber based solutions will bring more wealth to the African people. He also felt, that doing business in Nigeria is profitable to SkyVision as long as they create value for their customers and help them grow their business year after year.
How will you describe doing business in Africa in 2012, what are the bold steps SkyVision will take in 2013 to extend its products and services?
In retrospect, 2012 was a good year for SkyVision in Africa. Our aggressive, ongoing expansion strategies proved successful and led to the establishment of SkyVision South Africa. Coupled with this important milestone, we also acquired “Afinis” and further expanded our local presence in African countries. As for satellite coverage, SkyVision now has all of Africa covered with both C-Band and Ku-Band capacity. We offer capacity via 11 different satellites which are used to deliver a wide range of services to various customers. We have local HUBs deployed in Nigeria, DRC, Guinea, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa and we also manage several private customer HUBs and networks all across the region. We view ourselves as ‘the leading satellite service provider’ in Africa, offering our customers true value-for-money. For many years running, we have been recognized for superior solutions and unrivalled customer support – and a host of satisfied customers across the continent. The telecommunication landscape in Africa is forever changing and throughout 2013, SkyVision will continue to extend its local presence in Africa and launch new and vital services to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers and prospects.
How do you intend to penetrate the corporate market segments as well as enhance your ability to give comprehensive satellite communication to the African market in 2013?
SkyVision’s local and global HUBs and points of presence serve a large number of corporate customers in Africa, all of whom benefit from strong and reliable international, regional and domestic connectivity solutions. With the development of the ICT in Africa, there has been an increasing demand for efficient connectivity solutions. In many urban areas, fiber or wireless connectivity solutions exist, however, often, the quality and terrestrial infrastructure are not sufficient for business customers who simply cannot afford network access outages. For these customers, SkyVision proposes “SkyVision IP-VPN” over satellite, specially provisioned to support inter-branch connectivity and various corporate applications. Based on years of experience and expertise, we customize our solutions to meet virtually any corporate customer’s application needs. Due to its dramatically high reliability and proven cost efficiency, this service has become popular with financial institutions, insurance companies, micro-finance organizations and government institutions. For customers who prefer wireless or fiber connectivity as a prime means of connectivity, we offer “SkyVision Active,” a convenient backup on demand service, billed on a pay-per-use model and what has become a popular business continuity solution. To meet the many telecommunications needs of our corporate customers, we launched value-added services including our managed firewall and international VoIP services. I believe that one of our key advantages is our ability to provide comprehensive, cutting-edge solutions to our corporate customers, particularly those who need to connect multiple locations in multiple countries throughout Africa and other countries.
What informed SkyVision’s decision to launch Smart Phone Application?
SkyVision is always looking for new ways to provide its customers with value-added products and solutions. The VSATPro application is an easy-to-use tool designed for VSAT alignment in the field. VSATPro is available for both iOS and Android – all you need is a mobile phone and you’re good to go! With over thousands of users within the first month of its launch, we quickly understood that VSATPro was a much-needed tool. VSATPro also includes additional tools and a list of satellites and services. We were pleased to discover that Nigeria was one of the most popular locations for VSATPro use.
The African data space has been heated up with the launch several submarine cables. Is SkyVision looking into launching one soon, or you are okay with partnering with the companies that have launched?
We currently provide fiber-based services using capacity leased from several submarine cable operators, and we use both wireless and fiber for last-mile connections. As our network is based on several international fiber sources, it’s proven to be a great advantage for our customers, and has resulted in increased demand. At this time, we do not envision a scenario where we would deploy our own submarine cable.
After years of operating in Africa, will you still say satellite is a better option to cable? Or will you say a combination of both will best serve the Africa region?
There is no question that most customers would prefer cable-based services whenever possible and if service quality was reasonable. The problem is that a majority of the African population does not benefit from the capacity boom off the shores of Africa. With unreliable, insufficient and monopolized control of domestic networks, the number of people who benefit from the reach of fiber optic cables is relatively small and the services are still expensive when compared to more developed countries. It is for this reason that satellite communication solutions will still be in high demand throughout Africa. Further, we believe that the hybrid satellite-cable approach has not been utilized enough to expand the internet and ICT penetration to many regions on the continent. We consider this approach as fundamental in bringing wealth and prosperity to the people of Nigeria, in particular, and Africa as a whole.
How will you rate the acceptance of some of your newly introduced services from network operators in Nigeria, especially the SkyVision Voice services?
SkyVision has recently introduced two value-added services to its customers and prospects, SkyVision Managed Firewall and SkyVision Voice Services. These services are particularly appealing to our corporate customers, as they offer real benefits in terms of telecommunication service cost-savings. Our Managed Firewall allows corporate and business customers to protect their networks and further, control their employees’ network usage without having to invest in firewall hardware. Customers can tailor the service to suit their specific needs, and as our firewall solution is updated frequently, customers need not be concerned with purchasing new licensing or updating their antivirus or firewall. SkyVision Voice Services enables customers to benefit from quality, cost-effective international calling services. The service is especially convenient for business customers who can use standard phone sets rather than mobile devices to place international calls. Further, corporate customers with several sites/offices connected to SkyVision’s network do not pay for inter-branch calls.
Having done business in Nigeria for some years now, will you say the Nigerian ICT scene has come of age? Is it profitable doing business in Nigeria? What other things will you have loved to be there that are not there now?
We have witnessed the development of the ICT scene in Nigeria. Proof of this is that today, we are dealing with more technologically-educated prospects than we did 4-5 years ago. We are very pleased with this phenomenon, as it has increased the demand for quality services and solutions – a key differentiator between SkyVision and some of our competitors. We feel that it’s possible to develop and maintain a profitable business in Nigeria as long as we create value for our customers and help them grow their business year after year. This is where customer loyalty begins. We hope that Nigeria’s economy will continue to prosper and that the demand for ICT and quality services will also rise. We see many organizations and people in Nigeria who compromise on the level of service they receive from local providers. It is our hope that customers will learn to properly evaluate their options and choose their service provider based on service quality and specifications and not solely on price.