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Fixed broadband wireless technology for Africa

May 17, 2017 • General, Opinion

Kamal Mokrani, Global Vice President, InfiNet Wireless.

Kamal Mokrani, Global Vice President, InfiNet Wireless.

Fixed broadband wireless technology is well suited to the African continent due to the ever-increasing demand for connectivity to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas.

Africa is a diverse continent not only in its physical landscape, but also its political, economic, social, technological and environmental outlook, with each country and region having its own set of unique challenges and advantages.

The changes that have occurred in recent years with the introduction of 3G technology – now being followed by mobile broadband based on 4G/LTE – have been monumental. There is a heightened consumer adoption of mobile devices as a direct response to the lack of adequate fixed infrastructure. This has leveraged broadband wireless technology providers to play a much bigger role by relieving the pressure for backhauling data traffic from the mobile operators’ base stations to the rest of their network.

We are now starting to see huge demand for reliable internet platforms from various types of service providers wishing to replace legacy worldwide interoperability with microwave access (WiMAX) deployments. This is paired with the requirement for high-capacity backhauling solutions from mobile operators.

There are numerous projects already up and running that have not only started to shape the wireless market in all parts of the continent – a market we have operated in for many years – and these improvements in connectivity have added a significant value to the economy of countries. Our solutions are ideal for the harsh terrains of Africa and are a cost-effective and suitable alternative to cabled infrastructure – our solutions are already successfully deployed across the entire continent.

One of the most successful projects is with a well-established Internet service provider (ISP) based in Algeria who offers connectivity to enterprises such as energy companies, manufacturers of all types, telecoms operators and education establishments. We successfully migrated their entire legacy WiMAX network onto an InfiNet Wireless platform, thus allowing them to serve even more customers and significantly add value to their own business models.

Another successful deployment includes a state-of-the-art intelligent traffic management infrastructure in Cairo, Egypt, which is aimed at easing congestion, improving air quality and decreasing travel time, ultimately increasing productivity through dynamic road traffic monitoring and management.

In Gabon, our equipment is used to provide the communications infrastructure and link several offices belonging to various medium and large enterprises, whilst in Zanzibar, the main national communications service provider has deployed InfiNet Wireless solutions throughout its network to offer high capacity and reliable connectivity to its customers.

Closer to home, through our South African partners, we built the very first wireless network in Ladysmith, and there are numerous other examples – city surveillance projects in particular – which facilitate varying levels of integration. In addition to this, we have built a number of networks for a diverse range of customers from industry sectors such as mining, energy, utilities and general enterprise market.

At the most recent AfricaCom conference and exhibition in 2016 – the largest African telecoms, media and technology event in the world – we launched our very latest portfolio addition, the InfiLINK XG 1000, a brand new platform which enables network operators to effectively provide significantly more capacity to their users than they have been able to do in the past.

The XG 1000 is the fastest point-to-point solution in the market, but more importantly, it reduces latency significantly. While the user may not necessarily see the benefits when using data over the network, there is a quantifiable difference when transmitting voice and video streams – a sub-three milliseconds delay, which is the acceptable norm for such transmissions.

Designed specifically to meet the backhauling needs of wireless internet service providers (WISPs) and enterprises of all types for applications such as 4G/ LTE backhauls, digital oilfields connectivity and homeland security, the XG 1000 can provide throughputs of up to one gigabit (Gbit) per second over the air in 5GHz license-free frequency bands, effectively doubling the capacity of our current offering. For Africa, this means that wireless ISPs will be able to deliver their services not just in rural areas, but also within urban environments, ultimately empowering them to offer even more capacity to users who are becoming more and more bandwidth hungry.

For us, it reinforces our position as an industry leader within the global wireless market and our commitment and strategic intent to helping bridge the digital divide within the African continent.

As Africa continues to take the necessary steps to building and strengthening its economy via the adoption of modern wireless technology, all the major stakeholders and businesses will continue to play a crucial role in the route Africa is taking to improving its overall economy. The use of mobile devices has increased significantly in the past few years and it is estimated that by the year 2020, there will be more than half a billion new mobile subscribers.

Combined with the ever-increasing demand for better services, products and way of life, Africa’s shift to higher quality internet access will undoubtedly become a game-changing aspect.

By Kamal Mokrani


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