Affordable satellite bandwidth for SA

Affordable broadband satellite services can significantly boost businesses in rural areas, and this will become a reality with new Ka-band satellites. So said Vox Telecom CEO Douglas Reed.

“There is little ADSL or 3G access in rural areas,” said Reed. “Farms and lodges for example have absolutely no communications or are battling along using dialup or EDGE services which are next to useless, and their businesses are suffering as a result.”

Reed said that recent research shows that safari lodges could increase their occupancies by 50% if they could offer their foreign guests quality internet access.”

Satellite has never been an option for these businesses because of the high costs involved, said Reed, but this is changing.

“The new Ka-band satellites have changed the whole landscape. It’s the first technology we’ve seen that offers a service that’s both affordable and reliable enough,” said Reed.

Reed cautions, however, that Ka-band satellite service is not intended to compete with uncapped ADSL.

“It fills the need for remote-areas access and is a great backup in urban areas, but the capacity is not unlimited. We have room for about 70,000 connections and it is a shared solution which means fair access policies will limit the solution.”

“The satellite is sitting in a geostationary orbit at just under 36,000km up, which means it takes about half of a second for a signal to make the trip from one ground-based transmitter to the satellite and back down to the ground station in Luxembourg.”

“The high latency will not be a problem for e-mail and web surfing, but the slight delay will be noticeable with voice calls and some VPN applications,” Reed pointed out.

Nevertheless, demand for the services “has already been a lot higher than we expected. We hadn’t realized the extent of the demand for a solution that was independent of the Telkom and GSM networks,” said Reed.

Vox has already begun testing the satellite service and expects to launch to the public in early August.

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Affordable satellite bandwidth for SA