When it comes to deregulation of broadband, Namibia has scored a significant first by deregulating wireless access and awarding the relevant frequencies for the first commercial application of WiMax technology to a commercial Internet service provider (ISP). 

MWeb Namibia will today launch the first commercial broadband wireless Internet service, which is available to Internet users in Windhoek and will be rolled out to Swakopmund and Walvis Bay shortly. The introduction of this service was made possible by a telecommunications licence awarded to MWeb Namibia by the Namibian Communication Commission (NCC) and Namibian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Rudi Jansen, CEO of MWeb, says that the government of Namibia has shown incredible foresight in embracing the new technology, and has proved its commitment to deregulation with this bold move of licensing a commercial operator, rather than just opting for the state telco.
“It’s amazing that a small country such as Namibia can be at the forefront of deregulating wireless access in the SADC region. It is obvious that they have an efficient and proactive regulator – an essential part of the process.
“In South Africa, the physical elements are already in place for rolling out WiMax, but regulation is holding back the process. As in the Namibian scenario, it’s also important that WiMax licences are allocated to private enterprises, rather than just state enterprises and telcos if end-users are to really benefit.”
Namibia’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, says: “By spearheading technological advances such as the wireless broadband products being launched in Namibia tonight, MWeb is helping to accelerate the process of converting Namibia into a developed country."
The new WiMax service will be highly competitive with existing fixed line products, and MWeb will offer a number of options tailored to the needs of home and business users.
Jansen says: “The entry-level broadband products for home use start at N$492.00 per month (equivalent of R492). These rates include the rental on the equipment installed at the customer’s premises, Internet subscription fees and all MWeb member benefits. MWeb has developed various wireless product options to suit the needs of subscribers.”
MWEB Namibia’s broadband wireless system will use a fixed external antenna and an indoor unit or modem at the customer’s premises. MWeb Namibia has contracted Rampoint to do the antenna installations.
According to Kobus Bezuidenhout, GM of MWeb Namibia, the new wireless connectivity will have a major impact on the usage patterns of Namibia’s Internet users.
“Wireless broadband will significantly reduce communication costs, which are notoriously high in Namibia. This cost reduction is particularly important for SMMEs and developmental organizations that have previously relied on dial-up accounts. As there are currently no fixed-line broadband options available to home and small-business users, the speed of connectivity will be far superior to that experienced in the country to date.”