Telkom and Sentech appear set to go head-to-head in the broadband Internet access via satellite market, following the parastatal’s launch of its SpaceStream Express (SSE) and SpaceStream Office (SSO) products.

SSE is designed to offer always-available two-way Internet access through a Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite link, while SSO has the same offering, bundled with telephone and fax services.

The SSE products comprise four packages, offering speeds from 64kbps to 512kbps, dependent on the users’ needs, while SSO converges voice and fax with Internet access, although the speed is limited to 64kbps.

The monthly cost of the SSE products ranges from R998 for a 64kbps speed to R3 019 for the 512kbps. Telkom has also instituted a volume cap ­ as it did with its ADSL service ­ of 500MB for 64kbps, 1GB for 128kbps, 2GB for 256kbps and 3GB for 512kbps.

"The beauty is that users can seamlessly upgrade to the next product level, as and when their needs require it," says Telkom’s Royden Dall.

"The service is intended for periodic use of e-mail, newsgroups, file transfers, Internet chat, instant messaging and Web-browsing. It is not suited for extensive virtual private network (VPN) usage, video and voice over IP, remote access, gaming, or high volume sending. "

Asked what Telkom felt about Sentech’s fairly similar offering, he says the SSE range offers the flexibility and ability to please practically all its customers, while it is really only its top of the range offering that will be in direct competition with Sentech.

According to Maureen Mphatsoe, senior manager for external communications at Sentech, the company welcomes the competition, as it benefits consumers and stimulates the professional environment.