New satellite connectivity model set to empower township/rural entrepreneurs
BUSINESS| Aug. 17, 2012, 9:02 a.m.
Maxwell Technology has launched a new product, Satellite Hot Spot, which it says has the potential to transform the business model for providing connectivity to underserved communities in townships and rural areas.
World Bank research has shown a direct correlation between broadband penetration and gross domestic product (GDP): every 10% increase in broadband penetration increases economic growth by 1.38%.Broadband rollout is thus perceived as a vital driver of desperately needed job creation in South Africa, which is why it is a flagship project of the Department of Communications.
“However, finding the right business model for low-income areas where computers are in short supply has proved to be difficult,” says Kallie Carlsen, technical director at Maxwell Technology. “The problem has always been the high costs of putting in terrestrial infrastructure as against the lower rate of return. Satellite has always seemed to be the best technical alternative but, again, the business model hasn’t been right—until now. When we came across this product we were blown away because it has the potential to turn this sector on its head.”
The Satellite Hot Spot product is offered by Sat-Space Africa, a leading provider of reliable and innovative solutions to Africa’s connectivity challenges. It uses the AMOS 5 satellite to provide connectivity to even the most remote areas — with only onsite satellite dishes and routers required.
The product is aimed at rural entrepreneurs wanting to set up Internet cafes, lodges and hotels situated in remote areas and even wireless operators looking for a stable alternative or addition to their terrestrial infrastructure.
The key, says Carlsen, is the Satellite Hot Spot’s innovative billing model. The traditional per-month billing model means that the client is charged for bandwidth even if it is not sold on to end customers.
By contrast, the Satellite Hot Sport uses a router to connect to the Sat-Space billing system, allowing the entrepreneur to purchase vouchers per end user—in this way, connectivity is only charged for once it is used, effectively creating a prepaid model.
“This billing model is a huge innovation in the satellite business, and we are first to market in Africa,” says Shimri Lotan, the sales director of Sat-Space Africa. “We are creating the conditions to make Internet connectivity a reality for those living in remote areas. Every dollar invested in Internet connectivity has an immediate impact on the education, self-development and welfare of users.”
“The prepaid approach was pioneered here in South Africa and, one could argue, lies behind the phenomenal growth of our mobile market,” Carlsen observes. “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.”
MORE BUSINESS NEWS
Investor networks to work towards pan-African Business Angel NetworkInvestor networks from across Africa attending last week’s DEMO Africa event in Lagos, Nigeria agreed to investigate how to form a pan-African Business Angel Network focused on early stage SME investing on the continent. Read More
Uche Ofodile joins Tigo as CEO in DRCFormer Chief Marketing Officer for Vodafone Ghana, Uche Ofodile has joined the Millicom Group as the Chief Executive Officer for Tigo DRC. Read More
MTN Business partners with City Lodge Hotel GroupMTN and City Lodge Hotel Group have announced a partnership to improve connectivity and telecommunications services across more than 50 hotels in SA and Botswana. Read More
Dimension Data announces WirelesscoDimension Data MEA is to launch a new company, WirelessCo, which will build and operate an open access carrier-grade WiFi network. Read More
UBA, ATI collaborate to boost regional and international tradeUnited Bank for Africa (UBA) has entered into a partnership with the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) to ease the flow of credit to clients engaging in regional and international trade. Read More
3rd Startup Knight competition to take place in SAByte Orbit has launched the third edition of its annual Startup Knight competition, which the company says aims to empower aspiring tech entrepreneurs in South Africa and offers the winner ZAR250,000 (US$22,000) in prizes. Read More
Global smartphone shipments to reach 1.2bn this yearThe number of smartphone shipments will approach 1.2bn this year, an increase of 19% from 985m in 2013, says a new report. Read More
ITC urges governments to increase public procurement from women vendorsThe International Trade Centre (ITC) has launched an initiative to increase the number public procurement contracts being awarded to women-owned businesses. Currently only an estimated 1% of public-procurement contracts globally are awarded to WOBs or women entrepreneurs. Read More
Orange launches start-up accelerator programme in Ivory CoastWith “Orange Fab Ivory Coast” and “Fab Israel”, Orange’s network of start-up accelerators is now present on four continents. Read More
Safaricom shareholders agree yuMobile buyoutShareholders of Kenya’s leading telecom Safaricom voted in favour of the company’s acquisition of the network, IT and infrastructure of smaller rival yuMobile at the firm’s annual general meeting (AGM), meaning the deal now only requires regulatory approval to proceed. Read More
FEATURED STORYMFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmers
Ugandan smallholder farmers are benefitting from an ambitious innovative ICT mobile phone initiative that offers weather reports and up-to-date market information about changes in prices for agricultural commodities, thus granting them lucrative returns from their farming ventures.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHiProcure delivers inputs to farmers’ doorsteps using ICTs
An innovation dubbed iProcure is already being used by several agro input firms which are now relying on it to distribute their products to farmers.
COMPANY NEWSVMware announces VMware Workstation 11 and VMware Player 7 Pro
VMware Workstation 11 marks 15 years of innovation with Windows 10 Tech Preview readiness, state of the art performance and cloud connectivity.Schneider Electric signs exclusive off-grid solar distribution agreement with Zimbabwean firm
Schneider Electric has announced the signing of an exclusive agreement with Samansco, a Zimbabwean renewable energy, back-up power and appropriate technology company.