Bolivia’s largest telecom operator Entel S.A. has turned to Israeli firm Gilat to obtain satellite earth stations, which the South American country is eagerly waiting for to provide internet access to its scattered population. A tiny country with just 11 million people, Bolivia is set to launch its first communication satellite, Tupac Katari, by the end of this year. If everything went according to the plan, the country will have embarked on what it calls “digital inclusion” initiative (PRONTIS) in January next year.
Under the contract, worth around $12 million, Gilat will supply satellite platforms, a key component for providing satellite telecommunication services, and a wide verity of equipments such as HUB and VSATs. According to Gilat’s press release, the contract also includes professional services for the central site installation, project management and training. “We have extensive experience in deploying satellite networks for internet access,” stated Erez Antebi, CEO of Gilat Satellite.
Latin America has turned out to be the important market for Gilat, with LATAM operation accounting for 33 percent of its revenue in 2012. Satellite technology is seeing rising demand in Bolivia as a large number of wireless operators are using satellite backhaul to provide Internet service in the country’s rugged countryside.
Entel too says it will use Gilat technology for rolling out 3G cellular network. The launch of a satellite, analysts say, will push the demand even further. Gilat’s operation in Latin America is widening by the day. The company has recently announced plans to provide Internet access to remote schools in Colombia. This came just months after it struck a similar deal with the Peruvian Ministry of Education. Last year, Gilat wrapped up an agreement with the Mexican government to supply satellite communication equipments to hundreds of cellular sites across the country.