Satellite broadband offering for SA

2011-08-16 14:52

Johannesburg - SA connectivity technology service provider Maxwell Technology has been appointed to market a new satellite broadband offering in SA.

The new product, SkyeMax is powered by SkyeVine, and provides broadband access to the internet via satellite.

"As specialists in VSAT [Very Small Aperture Terminal] communications across Africa, we have been searching for an entry-level, affordable satellite broadband option that will provide ubiquitous coverage," said Kallie Carlsen, technical director at Maxwell Technology- a subsidiary of Barnstone Corporate Holdings.

Carlsen added that the SkyeMax product addressed several important niche markets that were currently underserved by the existing broadband infrastructure. SkyeMax was optimised for reaching remote areas, and would be able to provide many communities with their first access to the internet.

The new service would be accessed via a satellite dish, with the basic service costing approximately R750 per month, which would include the first 1GB of data.


Maxwell Technology noted that top ups could be purchased easily, while unused capacity could be rolled over into the next month. Purchase of the dish and installation costs represent an upfront cost in the region of R6 000 to R7 000 including a wireless dongle for those using a desktop computer as well as a VoIP telephone if required.

"The availability of ADSL and GSM-based broadband is often overstated. Even in urban areas, availability is far from uniform," said Carlsen.

"In addition, unlike the majority of broadband offerings, SkyeMax is truly uncapped because we don't restrict the speeds of certain kinds of data. Rather, following the cellular model, we offer a differentiated pricing structure to encourage customers to schedule when they download certain types of data."

The technology illustrates that although satellite broadband is still an expensive options for South Africans, there is a need to roll out cable broadband infrastructure.

"I think that it's absolutely correct to say that in South Africa at the moment there are more last mile wireless broadband connections than there are wired," said Dominic Cull, Internet Service Providers' Association regulatory advisor.

"You need those broadband cables for the fibre backbone, otherwise it just costs too much to push it over satellite.

"Bringing it down on cable reduces the cost; Bringing down the cost of traffic along those cables - we do things like global caching. Certain of our products are cached locally, and that stops it from going back up Europe and saves some international broadband," said Brett St Clair Google SA head of mobile.

Hospitality industries

According to Maxwell Technology, SkyeMax offered the potential to improve rural education by making the internet accessible to teachers and children in remote schools, while for rural entrepreneurs it could offer the opportunity to establish internet caf├ęs in townships or remote areas.

It also had particular applicability to the agricultural and hospitality industries, both of which often operate from areas without broadband at present.

"For farming communities, SkyeMax has obvious security applications, especially as it has no terrestrial infrastructure that could be compromised," Carlsen noted.

"In addition, we feel that it has real use as a backup when the normal internet connection goes down. Some businesses cannot afford to have the internet go down for a few days - for them, SkyeMax is a real lifeline."

SkyeMax used the Intelsat New Dawn geostationary satellite which was launched in April. It was the first private commercial satellite fully funded and partly owned by South Africans.

SkyeMax would offer speeds of 4mbps (megabits per second), comparable to current ADSL speeds.

"SkyeMax offers a compelling proposition for all South African homes and small businesses that are currently without broadband access-and it's backed by a consortium that really understands the business and can deliver excellent backup," Carlsen said.

  • Niel - 2011-08-16 14:56

    "SkyeMax would offer speeds of 4mbps (megabits per second), comparable to current ADSL sppeds." sppeds

  • John - 2011-08-16 14:57

    Still way too expensive for the average Joe.

  • Burnicus - 2011-08-16 15:06

    Is this an article from 1999? How can they charge so much in these days of R199 for 10 Gigs of 3G data?

      Bled_Dry - 2011-08-16 16:23

      Because you can have access from anywhere!

      Kosmos - 2011-08-16 21:54

      Can you get your 10Gb of data for R199 in the middle of the Kalahari? Obviously not. I do not think that SkyeMax is intended to compete with urban internet but rather to provide decent access to people in remote under-serviced areas.

      ian.d.samson - 2011-08-17 07:36

      When the cost is R197.00 for uncapped bandwidth at 10Gbps speed, I'm in. Until then, no ways!

  • Boss - 2011-08-16 15:16

    I can see someone living in a mud hut in a rural communinity paying R750 a month for internet and R7000 upfront. Very cheap. Uhm I dont think so! What a joke.

  • cmcrobert - 2011-08-16 15:21

    "...SkyeMax is powered by SkyeVine" which sounds like there is a link to SKYNET somewhere along the way...The machines are coming!!!

  • Freddie - 2011-08-16 15:46

    By world standards, this 'offering' is overpriced and slooooow!

  • GrahamB - 2011-08-16 15:54

    Such crap...mweb offer unlimited bandwith @ R530pm on a 4 mb line..granted u dont always get 4mb..but it speeds up a lot from about 10pm. The failing with Skyemax is paying for additional bandwidth. R750 with 1mb free...go back to the drawing board.

  • Brian - 2011-08-16 16:09

    Bet all the current ISPs are very worried - at these prices even the most unfordable is is smiling

  • Harri Kemp - 2011-08-16 16:20


  • Nick Tarr - 2011-08-16 16:30

    "In addition, unlike the majority of broadband offerings, SkyeMax is truly uncapped because we don't restrict the speeds of certain kinds of data." Apparently they dont know the difference between uncapped and unshaped.

  • Billy_Bob - 2011-08-16 17:30

    I'm so getting this for my yacht.

      Pedro - 2011-09-06 01:13

      you can but its going to cost a little more than R7000.00

  • Badballie - 2011-08-17 11:56

    so its just another toy for the haves?

      Pedro - 2011-09-06 01:18

      not actually, its only if you need it, otherwise use a 3G card or USB modem.

  • Pedro - 2011-09-06 01:16

    The service is aimed at rural and remote locations. This same service is offered in Europe at Euro 80.00 per month with unlimited shaped bandwidth. The equipment costs Euro 400.00. Most of the time it is offered for free if you take a 24 month contract.

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