Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) has switched on the first commercial WiMax network in South Africa, built by Vodacom and offered to market through both Vodacom and iBurst.
The WBS WiMAX network consists of 120 base stations deployed in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, providing fixed broadband services.
Although the 802.16e network inherently supports mobility, mobile WiMax services will be offered in the future, as the network coverage and density increases.
WBS holds a Commercial WiMax Spectrum License and contracted with Vodacom to use its sites and resources to construct the actual network.
Both WBS company iBurst and Vodacom Service Provider Company have signed service provider agreements to take the offering to market.
They will start providing WiMax services to a limited number of trial users in order to iron out any network and process related issues, with a view to launching commercially in August 2008.
WBS has also formed a strategic partnership with Intel.
The company will launch a WiMax Broadband service offering speeds of up to 1024kbps and a WiMax Assured Rate service offering speeds of up to 512kbps.
Thami Mtshali, group CEO of WBS, says global experience has shown that ubiquitous, high-speed Internet access has improved the lives of every community where it has been deployed.
“The potential of the Internet to change lives for the better is proven and real. Broadband really should be viewed as a basic service, similar to water and electricity,” he says.
WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is described by the WiMax Forum as "a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access…".
In South Africa, WiMax will boost competition in the telecoms environment and has been touted as a serious alternative to fixed-line broadband services.
“We are excited by today’s announcement as it represents a major step towards the availability of wireless broadband connectivity in South Africa”, says Gilles Karolkowski, director: WiMax Programme Office EMEA at Intel. “Intel is committed to enable the deployment of next-generation fixed and mobile broadband around the world as a new and exciting way for people to access the internet anytime, anywhere.”
In the near future, Intel will embed WiMax capability into a range of laptops. “Over time, Intel will integrate on a piece of silicon all the profiles the industry is looking for,” says Karolkowski.