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Satellite broadband for consumers

Maxwell Technology ‚ a subsidiary of Barnstone Corporate Holdings has been appointed to market SkyeMax – an affordable satellite broadband offering suitable to the South African consumer.

Local connectivity technology service provider Maxwell Technology ‚ a subsidiary of Barnstone Corporate Holdings has been appointed to market a new satellite broadband offering in South Africa. SkyeMax is powered by SkyeVine, and provides affordable broadband access to the Internet via satellite for the first time.

‚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,‚ says Kallie Carlsen, technical director at Maxwell Technology. ‚The launch of SkyeMax fulfils that dream because it will provide Internet access for the first time to those potential subscribers who live in areas where there is no conventional telecommunications coverage, be it fixed line or wireless. South Africa really doesn’t have to wait until 2020 for broadband Internet to be available to all citizens‚ÄîSkyeMax does it now.‚

The new service will be accessed via a satellite dish similar to the ones used for DSTV, with the basic service costing approximately R750 per month, which includes the first gigabit of data. Top ups can be purchased easily, and unused capacity can 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 R7000 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,‚ says 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.‚

Carlsen says that the SkyeMax product addresses several important niche markets that are currently underserved by the existing broadband infrastructure. SkyeMax is optimised for reaching remote areas, and so will provide many communities with their first access to the Internet.

SkyeMax offers the potential to improve rural education by making the internet accessible to teachers and children in remote schools.

For rural entrepreneurs it can offer the opportunity to establish internet cafes in townships or remote areas for adults, providing them with an alternative way of communicating with loved ones.

It has 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 notes. ‚And for lodges, Internet connectivity could be a real value-add for corporate and conference visitors.‚

Within urban areas, SkyeMax can also be used to provide primary connectivity to homes and small businesses for which broadband is currently inaccessible. ‚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‚Äîfor them, SkyeMax is a real lifeline.‚

SkyeMax uses the Intelsat New Dawn geostationary satellite which was launched in April 2011. It is the first private commercial satellite fully funded and partly owned by South Africans. SkyeMax will offer speeds of 4 megabits per second, comparable to ADSL. ‚SkyeMax offers a compelling proposition for all South African homes and small businesses that are currently without broadband access‚Äîand it’s backed by a consortium that really understands the business and can deliver excellent backup,‚ says Carlsen.


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