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Sunshine Deal for Hothouse Start-Up

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DateTuesday, March 15, 2011

Sunshine Deal for Hothouse Start-Up

Docklands Technology Company Mandac Signs €3.5m East African Agreement to Provide Wireless-To-Go Devices




Mandac, the Irish start-up company which has developed a low-cost, internet access device for communities with infrastructure challenges, has won a major contract with the European Space Agency for the development of additional features for its Wireless-To-GoTM device, a low-cost single solution box which allows the distribution of internet access on the basis of pre-pay payment options, including scratch cards and mobile phone credit.



The European Space Agency's (ESA) purpose is to provide, for exclusively peaceful purposes, co-operation among European States for the development of space qualified products, as well as the development of downstream uses of satellite systems, including satellite communications, satellite navigation systems and Earth Observation satellites. The ESA supports technical innovations which address a particular need, evaluated under their ARTES (Advance Research in TElecommunications Systems) program.



Wireless-To-Go was designed by Mandac founder John Murphy, a veteran of the satellite and telecoms industry, who set out to find a solution to the lack of internet access for locations with poor infrastructure and power availability. Using a customized Ubuntu open-source system, Murphy was able to engineer Wireless-To-Go to run off a car battery which makes it particularly good for regions like the middle East and Africa.



Mandac's deal, in conjunction with its partners Intersat Africa and Astra Broadband Service SA, will see an initial deployment of more than 500 Wireless-To-Go devices across five East African countries in the next twelve months worth €1/2m, with a further roll-out of €3m for 5,000 units over the next 3 years.



Murphy said the Wireless-To-Go device doesn't just help rural communities, it changes lives: "What makes Wireless-To-Go special is its reliability and the fact that it requires no technical expertise on the ground. One button press and the shop is ready for business in 30 seconds and the pre-pay aspect of Wireless-To-Go removes all credit management risks. In Africa reliable power can be an issue, meaning people are unable to get online to, for example, locate a doctor, or access education. Commercial traders and travellers may not be able to plan their travel efficiently, taking their goods to the communities which need them. Wireless-To-Go can change the course of people's day to day existence."



Intersat is a leading provider of satellite based data solutions in Africa offering Internet via Satellite connectivity to organisations, government institutions and the private sector. Abdul Bakhrani, CEO, Intersat Group, said: "At Intersat we're in the business of breaking down the price barrier that has held back the majority of Africans from benefitting from the Internet. Not only have we connected businesses, government organisations, internet service providers, educational institutions and hospitals but we have also brought affordable Broadband Internet via Satellite to rural Africa. Wireless-To-Go helps us do this."



Antonio Bove, Product Manager, Astra Broadband Services S.A. said: "In rural and developing countries with very challenging business environments, it is crucial to rely on inexpensive low power consumption devices to address the rising demand of access to internet. We are proud to cooperate with Intersat and Mandac to bridge the Digital Divide with Rural Internet Kiosks."



Mandac, based in the Docklands Innovation Park, Dublin, is an Enterprise Ireland HPSU and has recently graduated from Bolton Trusts / DIT Hothouse entrepreneur programme. Tony McDonald of Enterprise Ireland said: "Mandac is an excellent example of an innovative Irish start up company developing highly innovative applications for export. It is one of a growing number of Irishtechnology companies successfully developing products for export through involvement in programmes of the European Space Agency."



Murphy added: "Africa is an emerging market and a land of opportunity. It's a fantastic place to do business. In my opinion we need to be making things that somebody else values and is willing to pay for. Wireless-To-Go firmly ticks that box."



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