The other connectivity option

Issue 8 2020 IT infrastructure

Homeowners and small businesses in remote areas may be forgiven for being confused about knowing what type of connection they need. Now that more people, in the ‘new norm’, are working from home or running their business from home, high quality and reliable connectivity is imperative.

“But the market’s crowded,” explains Kallie Carlsen of Paratus SA. “There’s VSAT, wireless, fibre, and mobile offerings and then there are bundles and packages to grapple with as well.”

VSAT stands for ‘Very Small Aperture Terminal’ and its purpose is to transmit and receive satellite transmissions. A VSAT comprises a dish antenna, a transceiver (or a combination of BUC and LNB) and a satellite router (modem).

“Familiarity rules and most people will probably opt for the most marketed and known brand names without really knowing what they are buying into. A long-term contract that serves you with a weak or patchy connection and poor support is about as useful as having your lifeline cut when you are hanging from a cliff edge – not only scary and extremely frustrating but also potentially dangerous and hazardous for your business.”

Quick connectivity checklist

• The most efficient and affordable delivery to remote areas is unquestionably VSAT technology. While it has slight latency (because of the time it takes the signal to travel from you to the satellite and back), you can still effectively stream Netflix and music without any delay. VSAT reaches parts of the country that no terrestrial service can.

• Quality of a VSAT connection is also related to capacity and the management thereof. Overloaded connections result in poor customer experience. You should use a provider that monitors the usage as it occurs and ensures the additional capacity to cope with demand.

• Remote locations require specialist engineering skill to ensure you have the right equipment and it is correctly installed to optimise your connection quality. A service provided, backed by a large reputable company, gives the customer additional peace of mind.

• Technology advancement is impacting the price you pay for connectivity – now that certain partnerships have been struck to provide better connections to remote areas, is that saving passed on to you?

• Support in remote locations is always a challenge. It is important to ensure your provider is able to provide you with support on the ground as and when you need it, so you are never left with no connection for long periods of time.

• As the market becomes more competitive due to various deals and packages being struck in the VSAT space, there are now very attractive and competitively priced packages available, but the above points around connection quality and effective support must be considered before committing to anything.

“Cutting through the clutter is difficult because one can’t always compare apples with apples,” explains Carlsen. “It’s difficult for customers to even know what questions to ask because they cannot be expected to know what pitfalls or challenges prevail when all they want is a high-quality network connection. For those living in hard-to-reach areas, VSAT technology is the best option and, thanks to investments made by big global players such as Eutelsat, Paratus is able to extend its footprint, halve the costs, and deliver a quality connection.”

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