21 years after the World Wide Web (www) became available, connecting to the internet remains a problem for many communities, especially those in rural areas. South Africa’s farming and rural communities have been no exception, and have lacked affordable, available connectivity.
“Broadband connectivity has a key role to play in stimulating our vital agricultural industry and giving rural people access to the internet economy,” says Kallie Carlsen, technical director at Maxwell Technology. “Farmers in particular need this connectivity to access new markets and intellectual capital, as well as to ensure their safety.”
Carlsen explains that satellite communication is particularly suited for remote areas, which are either unserviced or under-serviced by GSM and fixed-line networks. The sticking point has always been expense, but for the past year Maxwell Technology’s SkyeMax product has been offering an affordable alternative.
SkyeMax is a satellite-based broadband solution, and is used to provide download speeds of up to four megabits per second, with ten megabits per second already successfully tested and implemented for selected clients. SkyeMax runs on the SkyeVine platform, which provides broadband satellite coverage to Africa. “SkyeVine recently announced significant data price reductions of up to 20%, which we have been able to pass on to our customers,” Carlsen says.
He advises rural clients to weigh up options, and beware of signing up for packages with limited daily usage. He also warns that many so-called uncapped offerings are effectively capped by the limited bandwidth actually on offer. “We’ve come across so many people who are tied to unsuitable long-term contracts. You need a package that offers flexible monthly data charges and gives you the ability to manage your own costs. It’s also very important to ensure that your package isn’t subject to shaping, throttling or daily limits that constrain how you want to use the internet,” he says.
Aside from its affordable and flexible packages, Maxwell Technology has ensured its reach by partnering with a leading distributor servicing the agricultural market. This partnership means that the dishes, telephone instruments and so on are available from agricultural stores, even in the remotest areas. Financing options are also available through the agricultural stores.