Telsat Broadband Limited
Telsat Broadband aims at creating and maintaining a broadband internet system which can deliver the same level of service in small remote island communities as it does in the capital city of Vanuatu.
This is achieved by creating a network gateway appliance which is driven by code specifically created for this projects purpose. It allows for easy and quick establishment of new POPs and is capable of providing both IPv4 and IPv6 to customers.
Before 2009 in Vanuatu, the only internet access was provided by the incumbent telecom as they held a monopoly on telecommunications for the country.
As of Sep 2009 the monopoly was broken and allowed Telsat Broadband start providing services.
The need and demand for services to the outlying island has only grown since then and during 2013, Telsat is planning to deploy upwards of 5 additional remote island sites.
The environment that Vanuatu presented is very similar to a lot of pacific islands. The population is spread over a large distance and difficult terrain, there is little terrestrial communications (if any). This particular environment demanded a solution that was both cost effective (to keep the consumer entry cost as low as possible) but also modern enough to bridge the digital divide.
This lead to the development of the LiteGateway NAS Appliance. This appliance can scale from a small device supporting up to 25 concurrent sessions through to a large server base supporting a major town. No other solution that was evaluated provided the level of features that we sought nor cost-effective enough.
Since the deployment of the platform in 3 locations, the results have been well received with interest in the project now coming from various aid agencies seeking to deploy the cost-effective communications solution in their outer island projects with the benefits of providing services to the surrounding community.
I feel that our project is exceptional due to the nature of its development and goals.
As a small company we're able to change our business model depending on customer requirements or needs and the development of the LiteGateway NAS appliance was one example.
At the time of setting up the Telsat Broadband network, no other gateway appliance could meet the needs of the environment in Vanuatu and couldn't deliver the services that we wanted to offer to the public.
To-date we've received no financial support for our project to deliver internet to remote island communities but we still continue to do so as our income allows.
The idea's behind the project mean that from the outcomes of the project, we are able to provide internet to schools, hospitals, emergency services and communities living in remote islands who otherwise would not have access to such services.
The primary objective of this project is to provide very low cost broadband internet access to the communities of Vanuatu. In the case of remote island communities where other means of communications are unavailable or not reliable, the only other existing solution is an expensive VSAT installation; starting at around US$10,000; which is usually limited to servicing the person purchasing the VSAT.
This project allows Telsat Broadband to invest and retain ownership of the VSAT systems that are installed and through the LiteGateway NAS appliance; distribute internet access to the local population. Broadband internet access is then available for as little as US$2.00 and provides the same quality of service as if they were in a major city.
The secondary objective is the ability to create business opportunities for the remote communities by allowing local stores to become re-sellers for Pre-Paid access and/or for locals to establish internet cafe style facilities.
A-Open Digital Engine, very small form-factor PC, uses as the NAS appliance hardware.
Debian (wheezy) v7, the operating system base for the NAS appliance.
Perl, the code format used for the software that drives the NAS appliance.
C#.NET used to develop the protocol communications between the NAS appliance and the central MS-SQL database.
The core of the project was the development of the LiteGateway NAS appliance. This development process took around 3 years to complete with the first version's development taking around 3 months. Version 1 then ran in production (only in the main city) until Version 2 was released on Jan 7th 2013.
The 2nd version was the release which enabled the establishment of the remote-island sites as well as both IPv4 and IPv6. This version took the lessons learn from the production release of version 1 and over the course of 12 months, version 2 was developed.
The outcome from the project has resulted in the successful deployment of the first 3 remote island sites with greater public interest in getting additional sites online.
The project doesn't have any promotional materials or marketing materials as it's been developed in-house, solely for Telsat Broadband's use.
It is later intended to package up the appliance and associated software for other ISP's in the pacific islands to also make use of the platform.
Steven James Noorderbroek