Neil Denyer is sales and marketing manager at global satellite internet provider Bentley Walker.
Denyer explains why Africa can benefit from satellite technology and services such as YahClick, and take maximum advantage of off-peak hours that can help stretch data limits and reduce service bills:
Africa is one of the fastest expanding continents for getting people online, with a 1030.2 per cent increase in internet subscriptions between 2000 and 2008 compared to the global average of 290.6 per cent.
However, internet access in Africa is still tough to come by. Only 15.6 per cent of the entire African continent is penetrated by the internet, and of that, South Africa makes up 60 per cent with 8.5 million people online - less than 20 per cent of the country’s population.
Compared to the global average of just over 36 per cent, Africa still has some catching up to do.
It is also believed that of the estimated 400,000 rural communities across Africa, less than 3 per cent has access to a public switched telephone network (PSTN).
But for anyone in a far flung corner of Africa, unable to connect to the internet in the conventional manner, there is a solution.
Satellite internet offers a way for those in areas less favoured by infrastructure to get online without the need of cables or a PSTN, opening all new possibilities for communication and business in rural Africa as well as the rest of the globe.
With current satellite internet technology faster and more affordable than ever before, it is now easier than ever to keep in touch with the world.
However, many people are still confused about what satellite broadband can do and how to best utilise the service. Satellite broadband is often subject to data caps, which can result in hefty charges and dragging speeds if abused.
In the past, this has meant downloading large files has been out of the question, which is why more and more Satellite ISPs are offering packages with off peak hours.
What are off-peak hours?
Most satellite internet packages in the present day offer some kind of off-peak period, usually at times when less people are online and the network isn’t working flat out.
Because of this, you’ll find most packages offer an off-peak period within the early AM hours - for example, between 1am and 6am local time. It’s their attempt to help alleviate the strain when downloading large files and big chunks of data.
By offering uncapped, faster download speeds during off peak times, it is possible to keep your daily satellite internet connection running at its optimum, make sure your data usage stays in the ‘green’ and not have to worry about upgrading your service package.
This is the perfect opportunity to download that ‘must see’ movie, large company document and run any system upgrades for your computer.
Making use of these off peak periods is the best way to keep ‘in credit’ with your monthly allowance.
However, as these hours often coincide with people’s sleeping routines, it would be worth considering a few points.
You’ll want to turn off any automated software updates you have running. If you can, schedule them for times your service provider describes as off peak. System, software and even antivirus updates should be carried out during this ‘down time’.
If you stick to this, you won’t use all your data allowance during the day.
To help manage your data needs, it would be worth installing a download manager app which you can use to set timers for transferring files. A quick search online will give plenty of results.
It’s not just your computer you need to worry about either. In the modern age gadgets are a huge part of our everyday lives.
Ten years ago most homes had one PC shared between the family online, whereas now it is not unlikely for every member of the household to have a mobile phone connected to the internet as well.
Phones can be tough to schedule updates, so it may be worth periodically setting an alarm in the night or staying up on the weekend to update any software and apps.
Uncapped downloads during off peak hours are great for avoiding reductions in broadband speed, however, if your service provider can’t cope with increased numbers trying to make use of this period then you may still be back to square one.
Even though downloads will be more efficient during off peak times, you may still run out of hours before your file has completed its transfer. If this does happen then in most cases your data usage allowance will return to what it was previously. Any data already received will not count, whereas data downloaded afterwards will count towards the user’s monthly tally.
If you’re the type of satellite broadband customer that needs a lot of bandwidth for downloads then considering these off-peak periods for obtaining your files is a wise move.
If you are a satellite internet user and you are unsure as to whether your package includes an off-peak period or an upgrade is available, your best bet is to get in touch with your provider to find out more.