When it is commissioned early in 2009, Seacom is expected to add 1,5Tb of connection capacity to existing links – and consumers should start experiencing true high-speed connectivity.
This is the word from Louis Yssel, CEO of YSL Group, who says the undersea Seacom cable holds a glimmer of hope for bandwidth-strapped South Africans.
"What we have thought of as a fast connection in this country to date is not even broadband," he says. "International access remains the real bottleneck which inhibits the capability of especially voice and video applications to run satisfactorily.
Yssel questions how many South African internet users currently access multimedia content or connect with friends or colleagues around the world using video communications.
"The applications to do so are available, some are even free. But it is the old bugbear of costly or insufficient bandwidth which limits the usefulness of these applications," he says.
Scaling out from individuals making calls, he says the many other benefits which are presently curtailed include the ability to deliver lectures or classes by video link; or for doctors or other professionals to render assistance remotely. Or for companies to rapidly exchange important data.
"More bandwidth means these and a hundred other scenarios can happen," Yssel says.
He draws particular attention to unified communication, which research house Gartner expects to go big in 2009.
"South Africans can't afford to be left behind as the rest of the world – with ample bandwidth – forges ahead with improved methods and modes of communication. The real power of unified communications – that of integrating voice, video and every other method of exchanging messages except postal items – depends on bandwidth. More
bandwidth will deliver a more satisfying user experience," he explains.
Be believes Seacom holds out the promise of making these applications, but needs to be careful how access to its bandwidth is to be managed.
"The best case scenario is that the rights are sold to competing organisations," he says.