For the first time, residents in Soweto on the outskirts of Johannesburg are able to experience high-speed Internet access at home, following the successful installation of a WiMax network by MWeb.
The rapid deployment of the technology was achieved with 100 residents being connected in seven days in various suburbs within Soweto. Other areas across the country will also soon benefit from MWeb’s rapid deployment of WiMax as 1 000 homes and businesses are connected as part of MWeb’s trial of the technology.
Commenting on the ISP’s swift installation rate in Soweto, CEO Rudi Jansen says MWeb was well-equipped to deploy a WiMAX network.
"We received our test license from ICASA towards the end of January 2007 and had our first base stations up within three months. This includes ordering and shipping equipment from international suppliers, technical training of staff, contacting trialists in selected areas and connecting homes on an area-by-area basis. MWeb has just completed the installation of its seventh base station in Boksburg," he adds.
“WiMax is ideal for achieving rapid Internet installation in areas that were previously not catered for by fixed line operators, as it is not hindered by cable infrastructure.
"It is far easier and quicker to deploy a WiMax network than a fixed line network. In addition, there is worldwide and local support for the technology which, in future, will drive costs down further as the uptake increases.”
“We are very satisfied with the performance we have witnessed from the technology. To date, we have tested browsing, e-mail and VoiP all with positive results, and this month we are testing video through IPTV,” Jansen says.
“We are on an exciting learning curve with this trial as we get to grips with issues such as optimal connection distances from base stations to achieve the best speeds. In geographically ‘flat’ areas such as Cape Town and Soweto, the signal can travel up to 20km from a base station, but in built-up areas, the signal can reach between 3kmand 5km. Our trialists offer valuable assistance with testing the signal strength and reliability of the technology.”
MWeb has a license to connect eight base stations of which seven have already been erected. The company is finalising arrangements to erect its eighth base station in Midrand.
In addition to connecting 100 Soweto residents, MWeb has connected a further 350 trialists in Cape Town and Johannesburg, including some staff members and MWeb subscribers. The aim is to have 1 000 trialists connected.
MWeb hopes to be awarded a commercial license for WiMax when ICASA allocates the remaining spectrum later this year.
“The allocation of WiMax spectrum is the perfect opportunity for ICASA to open up the industry to new players with a solid track record and Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment shareholders. This will bring real competition into the broadband Internet market for the benefit of consumers and businesses. These first steps at rolling out WiMAX is testament to our capabilities," says Jansen.