Leaps in satellite technology bring affordable Internet to SA’s remote areas

Dramatic leaps made in satellite technology over the past ten years will soon translate into an affordable, high-speed broadband Internet service for South Africans no matter where they live, says Jacques Visser of Vox Telecom.

February 8, 2012

Dramatic leaps made in satellite technology over the past ten years will soon translate into an affordable, high-speed broadband Internet service for South Africans no matter where they live, says Jacques Visser of Vox Telecom.

“Many people in rural areas and small towns, where there is no ADSL or 3G service, have had to accept slow, unreliable Internet connections,” says Visser. “Their only alternative was a very expensive satellite connection, which few could afford. The new satellite technology being launched next year will change all that.”

YahClick, the satellite service that Vox Telecom is due to launch in mid 2012, is based on Ka band (19 to 40GHz) technology that has only recently become available to the public. “Ka band satellites transmit many highly focused, overlapping ‘spot beams’, each covering a relatively small area,” explains Visser. “That means you get a more powerful signal and much greater bandwidth at a lower price, even in the most rural and rugged areas.”

“Previous satellite systems based on C band and Ku band technology needed large dishes and were expensive to install and run,” adds Visser. “With Ku band technology, for example, the satellite’s footprint – the area covered by its transmissions – is the whole of South Africa. That delivers a much more diluted signal than you can achieve with Ka band spot beams.

Vox’s YahClick service will cover most of South Africa, with the exception of the westernmost part of the Northern Cape. “The biggest benefit of the service is that, for the first time, you can get fast, affordable internet even if there’s no landline service available,” says Visser. “ASDL is not available at all in many small towns and rural areas, and even in cities it can take weeks or months to get a service. YahClick provides the same or better bandwidth, at a comparable cost, in a couple of days.”

There is a further advantage, says Visser, of particular interest to those who use a lot of international bandwidth: “The satellite base station is in Europe and is plugged directly into their Terabit backbones,” he says. “That means you’re not constrained by the bandwidth available in South Africa – and if an undersea cable has a problem, you are not affected at all.”

Visser believes because of the added reliability, Vox’s satellite service YahClick will also be an attractive back-up option for those who already have fixed-line broadband. “If you’re a business reliant on your ADSL connection, the fact that there’s no guaranteed service is a risk. Using satellite as a backup or add-on service will enable people to avoid business interruptions caused by communication failures.”