When technology defies the laws of mathematics


Users and service providers often pitch differing technologies against each other. For example, they voice scenarios like fibre replacing satellite or initiate debates like whether satellite is better than wireless and Long Term Evolution (LTE) will emerge as the mainstay technology solution.

Dawie de Wet, CEO, Q-Kon. (Image: File)

These ideas are valid and relevant, and also emphasise the benefits from applying different technologies within various environments. They provide the framework for ongoing information delivery, awareness and education of the market.

But, it is even more exciting to discuss the options available when different technologies are combined and integrated to provide wide-scale solutions that far exceed what is possible with either technology in isolated deployments. The Metro-Fi network is a classic example of where two technologies combined, provide much more advantages than either one does separately. It is the technology version of the proverbial saying 1 + 1 makes 3.

Consider the following scenario. A regional ISP deploys a Metro-Fi solution covering a university campus, or residential gated community, or high density residential area.

A Metro-Fi solution is a network that provides Wi-Fi access services over a metropolitan campus area. In this situation the ISP offers 10Mbps Internet access to end-users using iPad, laptops, smartphones or any other WiFi-enabled device at a cost of around R10 per 100MB.

The service is prepaid and the ISP doesn’t have to incur any fixed recurring monthly costs for the access circuit, thus it’s purely a “consumption-based” cost model for the ISP and a “pay-as-you -use” model for the user.  In this model the ISP can deploy networks without the risk of not being able to cover the cost of the monthly backhaul service.

This has the benefit that the ISP can provide an acceptable access rate of 10Mbps without the need to contract for expensive backhaul capacity. This also means the ISP is not faced with a huge bill every month if there was not enough services supplied to subscribers.

The ISP will only be billed for what could be sold to the subscribers – an ideal cash flow situation for the ISP linked and a very attractive option for the end-users.

So the question is – how is it possible that the ISP can have access to a 10Mbps access link without paying for the capacity that is not used?

The answer lies in the technology combination that is used to implement these services – it’s when “1 +1 makes 3” in technology that this scenario becomes available. The access link is a satellite access link that is part of a much wider network with multiple access links on a number of similar Metro-Fi sites.

One of the key advantages of satellite technology is that bandwidth can be allocated on an “on-demand” basis among different sites thus allowing the ISP access to the full 10Mbps access service only when needed by subscribers.

The advantage of satellite technology, linked with high-power outdoor WiFi technology solutions such as offered by the Wavion product, allows for the deployment of true Metro-Fi wireless networks underwritten by attractive business models for the ISP and attractive rates for the subscribers.

Dawie de Wet, CEO of Q-KON