Could pre-paid internet be Africa’s broadband saviour?

internet cables

internet cables

Depending on where you live in the world, it might be hard to imagine going about your life without easy access to the internet. For many, it has become more than a source of entertainment and information. From doing business, to keeping in contact with others, to participating in the news and conversation on a global scale, the internet has become an integral part of modern society.

In South Africa, access to reliable, affordable internet isn’t always a given. That’s why companies like Telkom Mobile have launched pre-paid internet programs. Like pre-paid options in the mobile phone market (you pay a fee up front to gain access to cellular service), Telkom’s pre-paid internet offers affordable internet access to areas that typically have to go without.

At its core, the Telkom program provides users with a SIM card to get started and 2.4GB of data usage per year, broken down to about 200 MB per month. And the cost? Just R49. For those without a modem, a 3G USB modem can also be rolled into the bundle, making it a one-time fee of R399.

Those 2.4 GB might not seem like a lot for folks who are used to downloading and streaming movies, music and cat videos every day of their life but, to the people of South Africa, it means finally being able to connect to the world in a whole new way, officially joining the 21st century in terms of technology, communication and information exchange. Depending on usage, those 200MB a month could go a long way.

Telkom isn’t the only company providing such a service, of course. Vodacom, for instance, also offers pre-paid Internet with no contract required. Its program, by comparison, offers 100MB of data per month, the SIM card and an optional 3G modem for R399. Without a modem, the price drops to R149.

And then there’s Afrihost, which offers its own take on prepaid internet. Its package offers 1GB of bandwidth with data validity of up to 12 months for R24. Up to 2GB is available at R48. The plan is adjustable, though, going all the way up to 50GB for R1200.

While many children of the cyber generation are used to having access to the internet from their cellphones just about anywhere they go, that sort of luxury isn’t necessarily afforded to the rest of the world. Telkom’s prepaid offering doesn’t exactly match that sort of access and availability, but it’s a solid start in an area that could use a technological push to join the rest of the planet on the world wide web.

Adults will be able to more easily do business, students will have more access to the world’s wealth of knowledge, and youngsters will find new and interesting ways to keep themselves informed and entertained. With more access to the internet, it’s also important for those with children to educate them about internet safety. They can even use this handy pre-made family internet safety contract and review it with their kids.

Again, this type of internet access isn’t the type kids growing up in, say, the United States have grown up with. The internet is full of its own types of dangers and pitfalls but, with proper planning and usage, it can become a brand new frontier that the people of South Africa can now more easily enjoy.



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