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Prepaid internet to connect South Africa’s townships to the web

Business owners in low income, rural and informal settlements have always struggled to get the internet connectivity they need as a result of poor infrastructure, a short supply of hardware and the unwillingness of business to invest as much as would be necessary to make affordable, widespread internet use a reality in outlying areas, until now.

‘Satellite Hot Spot’ products by Maxwell Technology, offered by Sat-Space Africa, utilise the new pan-African satellite, AMOS 5 to connect remote areas with just the use of an on-site router and satellite required.  Launched in 2011, AMOS 5 has meant that rural businesses like lodges and hotels will be connected without a great deal of terrestrial infrastructure required and little capital.  Wireless service providers will also benefit from the technology, finally able to connect under-served areas at low costs.  Perhaps the biggest innovation introduced by the new model is the ability to bill users for only what they use, discarding traditional monthly billing methods that usually mean customers pay a flat rate for information they may not have needed.  Connected to the Sat-Space Africa billing system by a router, the Satellite Hot Spot allows the customer to buy vouchers, thus creating a prepaid model that puts the customer completely in charge of their expenditure.

Kallie Carlsen, Technical Director at Maxwell Technology told AfricanBrains.net, “The prepaid approach was pioneered here in South Africa and, one could argue, lies behind the phenomenal growth of our mobile market, I believe that by applying it to satellite connectivity, we are now in a position to change the dynamics of the broadband market in our underserviced areas. It’s all about removing the risk for the resellers of connectivity, be they township/rural entrepreneurs or tourist destinations. The business is always cash positive and this means that it will be in a position to offer a cost-effective product to its customers—and because the cost is based on time and not bandwidth, the connectivity experience will also be superior.”


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