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Five things to consider when selecting a satellite Internet provider

December 7, 2012 • Opinion

Although satellite Internet has been available to certain markets for years, there has been an influx of new satellite Internet providers into the South African market place this year.

Ka-band satellites transmit many highly focused, overlapping ‘spot beams’, each covering a relatively small area (image: file)

“Satellite Internet can provide amazing opportunities for those in areas without access to Internet, or a viable backup solution, but you have to consider certain things to ensure you get the service you need,” says Jacques Visser, YahClick product manager at Vox Telecom.

Ensure you are getting access to Ka-band

Most providers can only give you access to Ku-band or C-band Satellite Internet which is more expensive and exposes you to issues such as atmospheric weakening, problems with low elevation angles and limited coverage.

Ka-band satellites transmit highly focused, overlapping ‘spot beams’; providing coverage over targeted areas, which means faster speeds, more reliability, smaller dishes and lower costs for the end user.

Ensure the price is right

Providers should be able to offer you a range of packages depending on your needs. If you are a big business who needs uncapped, unshaped Internet access, you need a package with a price tag to match; as is the case if you are small business who only needs to check your mail and use Internet telephony or a home user who only checks mail and uses Facebook. There are high quality, fast, basic packages available for under R200.

Ensure you are getting maximum value

Make sure benefits such as unlimited uploads, a Free Zone, built-in speed tests and real-time consumption metres come standard from your supplier.

Ensure there are reputable installers & support nearby

Where the installers and support staff are located can affect how long they take to install your hardware or respond to technical problems.

You ideally want to know that your suppliers and support staff are in your area and focus on your area, so that you can ensure they are not always out of town and out of reach.

Also, confirm that they are reputable and well trained and therefore able to provide you with the quality of support you need without needing to pass you on to different departments and endless managers.

Ensure it can support voice

Access to high-quality Internet can provide outlying areas with IP telephony. Areas that currently use party-lines or suffer from high instances of copper theft, can now access reliable connections and communications. Ensure that your provider can give you access to a voice-prioritised channel at a low cost.

“Fast, reliable affordable satellite internet is available now,” says Visser. “You just need to know the right questions to ask.”

Staff writer

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