Vox Telecom, in conjunction with satellite company Yahsat, has launched satellite broadband services for the African market under the YahClick brand, with prices starting at R163/month.
Yahsat, or the Al Yah Satellite Communications Company, is a private company fully owned by Mubadala, the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government.
Kevin Viret, Yahsat’s regional director for Africa, says that in the US there are already 1,5m subscribers to satellite broadband and that satellite providers in the region are seeing 40 000 to 50 000 new sign-ups each month.
Yahsat’s Y1B satellite, it’s second, is the first Ka-band satellite to be launched over Africa and was blasted into space aboard a rocket in April. Viret says the service is available immediately.
He says the cost of terrestrial connectivity in rural areas is 20 times that of urban areas and it is outlying areas that stand to benefit the most from satellite broadband — although the service will be aimed at urban users, too.
The service promises speeds of up to 15Mbit/s down and 3Mbit/s up with a standard, 74cm reflector dish.
SA will be one of the first African countries to receive the service.
US satellite device manufacturer Hughes supplies the dishes and accompanying router-like devices that sit in users’ homes. The company has more than 2,8m terminals deployed worldwide. It has 650 000 customers in the US.
Jacques Visser, YahClick project manager at Vox, claims the service will change the Internet landscape in SA. He says the large number of submarine cables landing in SA will eventually be tied into terrestrial fibre networks but that these still won’t benefit people in outlying areas who don’t have access to genuine broadband services and in some instances don’t even have access to reliable GSM networks.
Visser says 15% of small businesses and consumers in rural areas will not have access to acceptable services for years to come. And consumers in metropolitan areas are looking for back-up options and that satellite is ideally suited to serve this purpose.
“Vox hopes this offering can further level the playing field in SA and provide connectivity to those who previously haven’t had a reliable service, or any service at all,” says Vox Telecom co-CEO Doug Reed. “The service isn’t just for rural users, but will also provide another redundancy option for urban users.”
Equipment costs R5 750 upfront, or R189/month to rent it. Installation costs R1 000 and the data service package then costs R163/month for a basic package of 1,5GB of data on a 512kbit/s connection. Users will also get free data between 1am and 6am.
A 10Mbit/s package costs R1 378/month for 18GB of data.
All packages will offer different out-of-bundle rates, which Yahsat has yet to disclose. Across all of the packages, only downloads count towards usage.
The company will offer various launch promotions that include free installation.
At the very high end, there will also be a business package offering 15Mbit/s that will include free equipment and installation. It will cost a cool R12 320/month and offer 42GB of data.
The service will be available from the beginning of August. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media
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