South Africans will have access to low-cost satellite broadband services from mid-2012, when Vox Telecom plans to launch its YahClick satellite service.

Vox Telecom product manager Jacques Visser comments: “Many South Africans still don’t have access to reliable, affordable bandwidth. Despite the advent of many optic fiber cable networks now reaching South African shores, satellite services will become an important role player in providing the telecommunications infrastructure for rural and remote areas as optic service will only roll out to high density areas and it will take a long time if ever to reach the country side.

“YahClick will play a key role in connecting communities and creating informed societies by bringing cost-effective high speed Internet to millions of people

“YahClick is a project of Abu Dhabi-based Yahsat, which launched its Y1A communications satellite in April 2011 and plans to launch its second, Y1B, in February 2012. The YahClick service will be fully tested and ready for launch to the public by Maythis year, says Visser. The Yahsat 1-BSatellite, Ka-band payload included, will be the first of its kind in South Africa, having been expressly designed to support state-of-the-art satellite network access services.

“YahClick is a perfect broadband option for those who can’t get ADSL service, or who need a backup service in case of outages,” says Visser.

ADSL and 3G services aren’t available everywhere, and until now satellite Internet has been prohibitively expensive. Vox telecom plans to change that with YahClick.

Y1B satellite leverages advanced Ka-band multi spot-beam technology – for cost-effective bandwidth supply. The spot-beam Ka-band payload is designed to support broadband access networks for a range of applications. In addition, Ka-band spot beam satellites re-use frequencies to maximize spectrum efficiency for more network capacity. The same design enables use of smaller, lower cost terminals, antennas, and transceivers on the ground.  Y1-B will point 6 spot beams to South Africa.

“Ka-band satellite has now become one of today’s fastest-growing technologies because of the growing demand for capacity,” Visser explains.

Based on Ka-band satellite technology, YahClick will offer download speeds of up to 5Mbps and upload speeds of up to 3Mbps. “We have developed packages to suit a wide range of users, from the home user who just wants to download email and browse the web to businesses who may need to transfer hundreds of GBs a day,” says Visser.

A mid-range package offering 1Mbps download speed, 256kbps upload speed and 200MB usage per day (approximately 6GB per month) will probably cost less than R500 a month, he adds. This competes well with ADSL pricing.

“Satellite has traditionally been seen as an expensive option that’s only suitable for remote sites of large enterprises like mines,” says Visser. “But the technology has changed so much in recent years that it’s a real option as a primary broadband connection.”

Farms, clinics, game lodges and schools in remote areas will be among the first to benefit, says Visser, but the need is nationwide. “There are many urban areas where ADSL isn’t an option because there aren’t enough ports locally available or the exchange is full. YahClick is an ideal solution.”