Egypt's first-ever communications satellite to mark major milestone in telecom industry, officials say

Ahram Online , Wednesday 20 Nov 2019

TIBA-1 is unloaded from a chartered An-124 cargo jetliner at French Guiana’s Félix Eboué Airport. Flight VA250. TIBA-1 (Photo courtesy of Arianespace)

Egypt is set to launch its first-ever telecommunications satellite, TIBA- 1, on Friday, which officials say will be a major milestone that will see internet and telecom services cover the entire country.

The communications spacecraft, developed by Airbus and France's Thales Alenia Space (TAS), will be key to enhancing the country's land telecom and internet networks, giving millions of people in remote and rural areas internet beamed down from space.

Designed to remain in service in orbit for more than 15 years, TIBA-1 will be Egypt's first push into satellite-based internet services.

There will be no such thing as "system is down," said Mohamed El-Qomsy, CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency.

As Egypt presses ahead with efforts to promote e-payment, public electronic services and financial inclusion, expanding internet and telecom coverage to most of the population is crucial to pull off the country's digital transformation plans.

"Once the [current land communications] system breaks down, there will be a second network to replace it. This means guaranteeing having a strong, secured communications network at all times," El-Qomsy said in TV comments.

The satellite will also be key to boosting social development in the country of 100 million people, El-Qomsy said, citing promoting telelearning and telemedicine as an offset against under-resourced schools and hospitals, as well as offering strong telecom networks for the social insurance system.

Weighing approximately 5,600 kg, TIBA-1 was flown to French Guiana last month ahead of its scheduled liftoff from Kourou on an Ariane 5. It has an electric power capability of higher than 9 kW.

Airbus supplied the Eurostar E3000 platform and assembled and tested the spacecraft, while leading partner TAS designed and built the communications payload, featuring a dual mission in Ka-band for secure and broadband communications, Airbus said last month.

TIBA-1 will occupy the upper passenger position in Ariane 5’s dual-payload configuration on the upcoming mission, launch company Arianespace said. The satellite is to be accompanied by co-passenger GX5, according to Arianespace.

The satellite will help bridge the digital gap between urban and rural areas, and will contribute to the development of all government sectors, the Egyptian cabinet said.

The satellite will also offer internet and telecom services to some Nile Basin and North African countries, and is the first in a series of TIBA Sat satellites that Egypt is planning to launch.

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