Mobile WiMax could be available to South Africans as early as the first quarter of next year if everything goes smoothly both with pilots being rolled out now and ICASA licensing.
Ian Isenberg, business unit manager at Internet Solutions' (IS) telco services, says the company is in the throes of deploying a IEEE 802.16e pilot in Johannesburg.
The 802.16e standard, currently in the process of being ratified by the IEEE, allows all the functionality of the current WiMax standard (802.16d), with the added advantage of being able to beam through walls, making is a truly mobile platform.
What it means for users, Isenberg explains, is that they can choose between 3G and WiMax, depending upon which protocol is more cost-effective.
Although it was developed primarily as a data carrier, the new version of WiMax will also efficiently carry voice traffic.
ICASA has indicated it will grant WiMax licences in November.
Isenberg says that if the licensing comes through and the pilots being rolled out now go smoothly, commecial services could be available early in the new year, although mid-year may be more likely.
IS is also promoting wireless mesh and broadband over power technologies.
Both of these would deliver WiMax services to a number of users – for instance in a townhouse complex or business campus – using either wireless transmission or carrying the signal through the existing power lines.
"Whereever there is a plug, we are able to provide an Ethernet point," says Isenburg.
A concetrator is installed in the distribution box and this sends the WiMax signal out over the electricity network feeding off that box, and delivering up to an 8Mbps WiMax connection to every plug.