London-based Satellite ISP Avanti Communications has appointed Kyle Whitehill to be its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The move comes ahead of their planned March 2018 launch of the new HYLAS 4 spacecraft that will offer “cost-effective and high-speed broadband” across Africa and Europe. Kyle joins Avanti from his former position as CEO of the Liquid Telecom Group in South Africa.
Prior to that Kyle was with Vodafone Group for almost 15 years, where he served as CEO of Vodafone Qatar, overseeing the successful launch of the country’s 4G+ network, as well as being CEO of Vodafone Ghana for three years and COO of Vodafone India. The new CEO replaces former boss David Williams, who announced last summer that he was leaving the company after 17 years at the helm. A non-executive board director, Alan Harper, has been overseeing Avanti as an interim CEO and will now return to his previous role.
Kyle Whitehill said:
“I am delighted to be part of Avanti’s new beginning. As HYLAS 4 is launched, a new story will be written. There is great opportunity here.
We are bringing much needed, secure and reliable broadband communications services to communities, governments and companies across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In Africa, we will help transform a continent by bringing communications and opportunity to unserved communities. I look forward to working with the team at Avanti and, with my contacts across these regions, to deliver great services to Avanti’s customers and great results for its investors.”
The operator recently announced revenue for Q3 2017 of £9.7m and EBITDA of £3.8m, with a period end cash balance of £90.0m and a period end backlog of £95.2m.
Financing the new HYLAS 4 satellite has put a lot of pressure on Avanti, which is now banking on a successful launch to help steer it through difficult times. On the bright side Avanti has just agreed a new partnership deal with Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which will use Hylas 4 to connect 1,000 rural schools across Africa to the internet. Apparently the marginalised schools will be able to get access for approximately £10 a day.
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Liquid Telecom plans to upgrade its data centre facilities and expand its physical fibre footprint in South Africa and other markets where it operates, chief business development officer Willem Marais told MyBroadband. “We have over 16,000 kilometres of linear network route in South Africa and a total of over 50,000km across all 15 markets we serve,” said Marais. While Liquid Telecom will expand its fibre network in the country, it does not plan on making a fibre-to-the-home push this year.
“Our focus in South Africa has been national and metro fibre, and fibre to the business,” said Marais. Marais said Liquid Telecom has strong FTTH deployments in many markets, and the reason they haven’t invested in FTTH in South Africa is due to the challenge of rolling out national and metro networks. He said this also ensures they do not duplicate the effort of other organisations, as this allows Liquid Telecom to play to its strengths.
“We partner with FTTH providers to connect our clients,” said Marais. Liquid Telecom is involved in the retail arena in South Africa, however, after acquiring Neotel. This includes over 120,000 retail subscribers on its old CDMA network.
“We are considering other media to connect those customers,” said Marais.
Data centre expansion
Liquid Telecom, under its subsidiary Africa Data Centres, recently launched its newly-expanded data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town. It upgraded the total floor space of its Johannesburg data centre from 1,800 to 3,000 square metres, and its Cape Town data centre from 500 to 1,800 square metres. The Johannesburg data centre has a total power capacity of 7MW, while the Cape Town facility offers 5.5MW of power.
Liquid Telecom will continue to upgrade these facilities in terms of floorspace and power over the course of 2018, with the aim of increasing the capacity of the data centres five-fold over the next five years.
Liquid Telecom South Africa has announced that CEO Kyle Whitehill is leaving the company at the end of his contract. “Kyle has decided to return home to be with his family who remained in the UK during his time in South Africa,” said Nic Rudnick, Group CEO at Liquid Telecom. “We thank Kyle for his determination and drive that has seen the company go through many positive changes and renewed focus.
With our strong leadership team in place, the company will continue to build Africa’s digital future.”
Whitehill will depart the company on 20 March 2018.
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