Sentech My Wireless Broadband

Last year on 5 March I attended the launch in Durban of Sentech’s My Wireless Internet service.It gave users a permanent connection to the Internet via radio instead of by phone and, very impressed with the demo, I felt that an Internet provider had finally arrived which could compete with Telkom. I said as much in an article I wrote soon afterwards but disillusionment set in when I discovered that the service wasn’t as available as I’d thought; not even from my home which is just about as central as it is possible to get in Durban.
Over the next few weeks I received a number of self-exculpatory press releases from Sentech explaining why it wasn’t Sentech’s fault that users were experiencing slow connection speeds. I wrote off My Wireless as little more than marketing smoke and mirrors and there matters rested until recently when Rob from JustConnect stopped off at my desk showed it to me again.
Rob tells me that Sentech has got its act together and now covers most of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, as far inland as Westville. He said that My Wireless makes it very easy to connect to the Internet, with the added bonus that you can be online as long as you like for a flat monthly fee.
He set up his laptop, plugged in the wireless modem, which is about the size of a packet of 30 cigarettes, and was online moments later. The package he was demonstrating was the basic 128kbps one which offers download and upload speeds just over twice as fast as those possible with a dial-up modem.
The package costs R499 per month, if you buy a modem for R3300 up-front, and R649 per month if you elect to rent a modem. You can download, or upload, 10Gb of data per month before they’ll phone you up to suggest you might like to pay them some more money. Also available is a 256kbps service at R699 per month, and a 512kbps one at R1349 per month.
A faster always-on Internet connection sets you free and is, to my mind at least, not something I could easily do without. The price of the My Wireless 128kbps service, with modem included, is about the same as Telkom’s HomeDSL 384 and I guess you’ll have decide for yourself which to get. The Telkom base offering is three times faster but My Wireless offers portability and three to five times more download and upload traffic.
I had hoped that My Wireless would drastically reduce the cost of Internet connections to South African consumers but that hasn’t happened yet. We still have some of the most expensive Internet connections in the world and I can’t help thinking that Sentech could do itself a lot of good if it would only sell its modems for R500 and halve its monthly charges.
Just out of curiosity, I looked for another Internet provider using the same make of modem as Sentech does and I found an outfit called Woosh Wireless in New Zealand. They offer their modems for NZ$199 [R870] and their 250kbps package with 10Gb of uploads and downloads for NZ$69.95 [R306]. That means that Sentech is charging three and a half times as much for its modems and 66% more per month for half the download speed!!

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