Residents and businesses in the Amathole district of the Eastern Cape will have high-speed Internet access plus free Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone calls within the next few months, thanks to a WiMax broadband project rolling out in the area.
Tellumat is to install WiMax base stations on behalf of under-serviced area licence holder Amatole Telecommunication Services in regional centres including East London, Bhisho, King Williams Town, Alice and Fort Beaufort in the first phase of the roll out.
The network will be expanded in further phases to cover other targeted areas in the Amathole district.
“WiMax is specifically designed to cover wide geographical areas serving large numbers of users at an affordable price,” says Tellumat’s Geoff Carey. “Worldwide it’s considered one of the best solutions for ‘last mile’ broadband connectivity.
"WiMax technology can offer access speeds approaching 70Mbps per base station sector. The broadband service will be offered with connect speeds ranging between 64kbps and 2Mbps, effectively providing a wireless alternative to other broadband service offerings.
Bevan Booy, operations director at Amatole, says the company, which has so far offered cellphone services through roaming agreements with the major cell networks, will offer both voice and data services including VoIP through its wireless broadband network.
“People will pay a monthly subscription for an always-on connection to the network which they can use to access the Internet as well as to make VoIP calls,” says Booy. “All calls within the network will be free, and subscribers will be able to buy airtime for calls outside the network or outside the region at very competitive rates. There will be no need to buy special equipment – we supply a terminal for each subscriber and they simply plug in existing phones and computers.”
The deal is pending release of funding from the Universal Service Agency, but Booy says Amatole intends to launch services in June this year.
“The Amathole district has been very poorly served by the major telecommunications operators so far,” he says. “ADSL is available in some suburbs of East London, but in the rest of that city and the district there is little or no broadband access available. There is huge unmet demand from residents and businesses, as well as government agencies, and we expect wireless broadband access to be very well received.”