October 2019, Johannesburg: Even though the Fourth Industrial Revolution has been a focal point in recent months, less than 2% of South African rural households can access the internet from home. Clearly there is work to be done if more people are going to be part of the connected economy.

This is a challenge that integrated ICT and infrastructure provider Vox has taken to heart. While initially targeting coffee shops, restaurants, and other small service businesses when it was introduced earlier this year, the Vox WiFi Retail Lite solution has the potential to disrupt the way internet access is provided to farming communities.

Designed to empower farmers with an affordable way of giving their workers access to reliable high-speed internet, it all but eliminates the reliance on GSM services beset by poor reception and high mobile voice and data rates.

“Up to now, farm workers have had to pay exorbitant prices for entry-level voice and data packages. To make matters worse, connectivity in outlying areas often results in dropped calls, slow internet speeds, and an inability to stay in touch with their loved ones,” says Jacques Visser, head of wireless at Vox.

Rural workers who have children living in school hostels and family members working far away deserve a better way of communicating with them. Satellite connectivity is the cornerstone on which the Vox offering is built, doing away with the need for traditional cell signal. Furthermore, Vox has structured the WiFi Retail Lite offering to be affordable while still delivering a world-class service to farming communities across the country.

“We are giving farmers the opportunity to create a WiFi network for their workers where they can make free voice calls to any South African number and access the internet. Given how technology has evolved, satellite services have become far more competitive when compared against other forms of fixed, fixed-wireless, or wireless solutions. This makes it an ideal replacement for ADSL,” he says.

This sees farmers having a dedicated voice channel for themselves and allocate another one for their workers. And its user-friendly dashboard means viewing data usage is a swipe of a finger away.

“Vox is providing farm communities with an alternative and reliable way of becoming connected. For too long, farmers and their workers have had to wait at the back of the line when it comes to high-speed internet access. We are changing this and giving them the means to finally join the digital age in a more affordable way than before,” he concludes.