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Why iDirect satellite system Tanzania has a free IT-market and we had several technologies from which we could select the hardware and also several local providers. We selected iDirect hardware, which is provided to us by Simbanet. You can have a look at the hardware on the ground.
The special requirement for our hospitals is a reliable system, which makes remote administration possible through a small bandwidth. We need remote administration for the Hospital Information System (HIS). Satellite bandwidth is still expensive in Africa and it is the only reliable connection to district hospitals. Most of our hospitals are able to buy a bandwidth comparable to phone line or even less.
First our selection was C-band, which gives over 99.9% online time. Ku-band is more sensitive to rain and thick clouds, which may reduce the online time to 95% depending on the location.
There are many C-band technologies available. We wanted to have a system, which allows sharing the total bandwidth, that the hospital are buying and at the same time good control of the bandwidth for every hospital. iDirect hardware makes this possible with its very delicate control of bandwidth allocation to each satellite dish. Every site will get a minimum guaranteed uplink and downlink and on top of that bursting to the unused segment of other hospitals. There are also big differences in the efficiencies of different technologies how much they are able to send data through the same bandwidth. iDirect technology is giving up to 98% efficiency compared to 30-60% of some other technologies. For technologically oriented read the following documents: Efficiencies of iDirect Technology, DVB vs. iDirect Technology v2 and Why iDirect in Business Satellites Solution page. More information in iDirect homepage.
For e-mail and Internet we could have used other technologies, but the better quality of the system gives also option to use the narrow bandwidth for phone calls, which can be given priorities before other data. Some hospitals do not have national telephone lines and can connect to national network through satellite. The system can be used for consultations using at the same time voice, text and pictures. Video is possible only if hospital can afford enough bandwidth.
Simbanet is one of the big providers of satellite services in Africa. They were willing to build this system with a lot of hardware but with small total bandwidth compared to most other clients.