SPLANG utilises Marlink’s satellite network to provide Internet access to remote villages in French Guiana

Wednesday 3, March 2021

To overcome the digital divide in French Guiana, Marlink has been selected by Société Publique Locale pour l’Aménagement Numérique de la Guyane (SPLANG) to upgrade and operate the local satellite network as part of the local telecom infrastructure. Through a fully managed Network Operator Service, Marlink provides the entire satellite capacity, LTE & Wi-Fi coverage, as well as the commercialisation of the Internet services to SPLANG subscribers. The solution is backed by local customer care and network maintenance.

The Challenge

The digital divide is a reality, especially for small remote villages located in the Amazonian forest in French Guiana. In the willingness to avoid the migration of the inhabitants of the remote villages towards the main towns, the French authority created SPLANG to drive the digital development of the Guianese territory.

Acting as the public telecom operator, SPLANG provided the first satellite-based Internet access services in the most difficult reachable areas in 2010.

To enhance the country’s telecom services, SPLANG and Collectivité Territoriale de Guyane (CTG) selected Marlink as the preferred satcom service provider to upgrade and operate the satellite network and to commercialise the Internet services to the end users.

Marlink brings high-end telecom capabilities to operate complex networks, power supply subsystems, Wi-Fi access points, and operational deployment in challenging environments.

The Solution

Marlink was selected to upgrade and operate a satellite network of 1 Hub and 18 remote VSAT stations including the power supply subsystems, LTE and Wi-Fi access points as part of the existing telecom infrastructure of French Guiana.

Managed Satellite Network

The existing VSAT network was upgraded from a SCPC baseband to Marlink’s Hub solution based on the Newtec Dialog platform. The extensive VSAT network is today a robust and reliable network to deliver redundancy and uptime. It is operated with high-speed Ku- and C-band capacity, providing up to 300 Mbps bandwidth. C-band was added to the network to take advantage of its resilience and availability in rainy conditions.

With a service availability of over 99.8% under a very demanding service level agreement, Marlink is constantly managing the service delivered to SPLANG through proactive network monitoring, reporting and predictive maintenance.

Commercialisation of Internet services

Several types of dedicated connectivity services are offered to the inhabitants of the 18 remote villages:

  • Free Wi-Fi hotspots for public facilities
  • LTE Box subscription services using local 4G coverage (post-paid)
  • VSAT broadband subscriptions for users beyond LTE coverage (post-paid)

Customer Service

Moreover, Marlink operates a dedicated Help Desk to support the end-users. Business tools have been developed to enhance the customer service by standardising and automatising the administrative tasks, service plans and customer invoices.

Field Services

Using its own field engineers located in Cayenne with support from Marlink’s Network Operations Centre, Marlink is in charge of installations and upgrades, 24×7 network support and maintenance across the territory.

Key Benefits

Marlink helped SPLANG fulfil its objectives through:

  • One single provider to design and operate a fully managed satellite network to provide high-speed Internet access in difficult-to-access villages
  • Development of the telecoms infrastructure which supports authorities to keep remote services running for educational purposes and government facilities as well as connecting the population
  • Fully managed network operator service combining provision of entire pool of satellite capacity (Ku- and C-band) and in-country HUB to control traffic, in addition to management of subscription services and maintenance of the network
  • Standardisation, simplification, and automation of sales and administrative tasks

SPLANG’s Feedback

An important aspect of this project is to help people in remote inland villages to get online with reliable connectivity for educational and social purposes. Marlink is enabling us to develop a more robust digital education infrastructure and connecting Guianese people with the outside world, which will contribute to mitigating the heavy migration to coastal towns that has been eroding the communities in recent years.

Jocelyn Ho Tin Noe, President, SPLANG.

About the SPLANG Project

French Guiana’s VSAT network is completely managed by Marlink in partnership with SPLANG, the official local public company established to drive Guiana’s digital development, and the authorities Collectivité Territoriale de Guyane (CTG).

Marlink signed the first contract with SPLANG in 2017 to provide Ku-band connectivity. In addition, Marlink supplied microwave to extend the reach beyond VSAT connectivity. Local Internet distribution is managed through LTE/4G for Box subscription services and free Wi-Fi for public facilities.

In 2020, a new contract extended Marlink’s scope to provide C-band capacity being the single provider of the satellite capacity and the complete network management.