MEASAT has revealed today that it aims to increase its ConnectMe Now service to cover 300,000 users at 3,000 sites by the end of this year. ConnectMe Now is a satellite-based broadband service that can be deployed quickly in rural underserved areas that don’t have access to 4G or fixed broadband.
At the end of 2020, the satellite service was deployed at 1,000 sites in rural Malaysia and they now have doubled that figure to 2,031 sites which cover 200,000 users. According to MEASAT, they are the sole satellite broadband provider that serves the underserved communities nationwide in Malaysia. It is estimated that 3-5% of Malaysia’s population are residing in areas with little or no internet connectivity and this is where MEASAT aims to fill the broadband gap via satellite.
ConnectMe Now is seen as an immediate solution to address connectivity concerns as more Malaysians depend on the internet for work and online learning. The service can be deployed with zero upfront cost and no contract in villages with a population of 100 people.
To turn this into a sustainable business, the service creates an ecosystem whereby landowners of the satellite deployment will be incentivised to host and provide power supply to the equipment while a local dealer can earn additional income by selling prepaid vouchers which are required to access the service.
On a typical setup, the satellite-powered WiFi service will utilise 2x Omni WiFi outdoor antennas that can provide connectivity within a 100-metre range. For larger areas, it is also possible to extend WiFi coverage. For areas without a stable power supply, a solar-powered solution can be deployed as well.
At the moment, the ConnectMe Now service is fully funded by MEASAT and they also work closely with state governments to provide subsidised subscriptions for rural residents. Recently, ConnectMe had provided connectivity at several COVID-19 vaccination centres in Sabah which are deployed in just a matter of days.
MEASAT-3d to launch in 2022
At the moment, ConnectMe Now offers download speeds of up to 30Mbps and upload speeds of up to 5Mbps with its existing network of MEASAT satellites. The satellite provider will launch its new MEASAT-3d satellite in 2022 which provides better capacity and internet speeds for rural users. The new satellite uses Airbus’ Eurostar E3000 which has a High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) capacity of 30 Gbps. Users on the ground can expect speeds of up to 100Mbps when the new satellite is deployed next year.
Last month, MEASAT decommissioned its MEASAT-3 satellite after a series of failures. The MEASAT-3d will be crucial to ensure that MEASAT continues to provide in-orbit satellite redundancy on the 91.5°E hotslot. Besides high-speed broadband, the new satellite will also be used to distribute 4K and 8K video content around the region.