Internet Solutions (IS) has applied for – and been granted by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) – bandwidth in the 28GHz spectrum. This will enable IS to provide customers with licensed wireless point-to-multipoint connectivity services and a cost-effective bridge to Long Term Evolution (LTE) or 4G technologies as they become available in the next five years.
Known as IS Wi-Band, the IS offering bypasses the current industry impasse around the liberalisation of LTE-capable wireless frequencies in the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz spectrum, to give organisations easily deployed, reliable, fast, secure wireless connectivity.
IS Wi-Band breaks with convention, making use of local multi-distribution services (LMDS) technologies to exploit a spectrum traditionally used in cellular back-haul to connect between base stations – rather than from base station to client.
Simple to install, with a 30cm microwave antenna attached to an indoor unit (IDU), a fast Ethernet interface, and a router or a switch, the system is capable of transmitting data volumes up to 20Mbps. Because it operates in a regulated, licensed spectrum, interference is eliminated and quality of service can be guaranteed.
The system is fully managed by IS. It connects to the IS backbone, and it incorporates Internet Solutions’ Service Level Commitment. It is therefore cost-effective and fully future proofed.
It also improves security and business continuity, because it is not dependent on third party providers – or on copper cable. Customers have far greater control over their data and voice connectivity.
“During the past four years, customer take-up of our unlicensed, point-to-point Wireless services has grown steadily, demonstrating the very real need for easily deployable, affordable wireless connectivity capabilities,” says IS carrier services executive Raj Wanniappa. “The interference and reliability issues of unlicensed spectrum are not ideal, hence we looked for a way to solve these challenges.
“At the same time, the lower frequency spectrum is what will be used to roll out LTE and 4G. We wanted to give our customers a Wireless platform that would ease their transition to LTE.
“Rather than be bogged down in all the disputes about lower frequency spectrum allocation for LTE, we set out to find bandwidth that had not yet been allocated by ICASA and for which there were cost effective technologies that we could source and deploy easily.”
Discovering that the 28GHz band was still available, Internet Solutions conducted a pilot and field trials in Johannesburg and Cape Town to prove that it could deliver services to its customers at the right price and the right levels of reliability.
“When we applied for the spectrum, ICASA realised how good the business case was for South African businesses and moved very quickly to grant the licence,” Wanniappa says.
Wi-Band is designed for line of sight coverage of up to five kilometres and connectivity directly on to a fibre or licensed wireless backbone.
“By allowing us to affordably and reliably provide mission critical connectivity in an LTE context, IS Wi-Band positions us to support our clients’ long-term strategic objectives, addressing for them the communications trends and challenges of the next several years,” Wanniappa says.
Wi-Band equips organisations to handle future increases in bandwidth demand without additional capital investment. It eliminates the disruption and environmental impacts associated with terrestrial solutions and the challenges associated with solutions in the unlicensed spectrum.
Finally, it provides the flexibility to set connection requirements anywhere from 64Kbps to 20Mbps.
“Effectively, IS Wi-Band converts a technology that’s been used for many years in the communications industry in a non-commercial context into a commercial advantage for any business in any industry,” Wanniappa says. “All it needed was a little fresh thinking.”