The annual MyBroadband conference in South Africa was dominated by talk of Long-Term Evolution (LTE), with mobile operators using the platform to explain their delivery strategies. Vodacom was the first mobile service operator to announce that they have officially made the service available to local customers.
Mobile service operator, 8ta, owned by Telkom, said that they will be delivering complete fixed products and provide LTE to areas that currently have no underground copper. “We’ll be offering a fixed LTE offer. Launching smartphones on an LTE network that isn’t ubiquitous is going to be difficult. Phones have to work much harder, which means less battery life. Our biggest selling point will be through Mi-fi and dongles,” said Amith Maharaj, 8ta CEO.
Echoing what most of the other mobile service operators were saying, Maharaj said that the company would like to see broader adoption in the market, but that LTE devices will be expensive.
“We want people to be able to enjoy LTE on a device from today. Wi-Fi is the defacto standard for smartphones, so LTE works well with them,” he added.
He added that Telkom has a multipronged approach towards LTE, and that they will make sure that 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi work side-by-side. “We’ll work to make sure that customers’ data does not get degraded, and we’ll also cater for all the apps out there.”
8ta is currently accepting applications from consumers to join its LTE trial, something which Maharaj said is very important.
“The LTE trial is important as we want to understand what users can do with LTE. We have now opened up the trial to customers, and we will provide them with free devices so that customers can understand what is going on.”
At the close of his presentation, Maharaj took a veiled stab at competitor Vodacom by referring to a small graph that was running at the top of his slide-show for the duration of his presentation. “If you were wondering, the graph at the top is what speeds 8ta will be providing,” he said with a smile. The auditorium broke out in applause.
“The speed you see there is in a real-world scenario. It will be working the same way for people who apply for the trial. We are playing an aggressive game for broadband,” he concluded.
During the presentation, his bandwidth peeked at 78Mbps for download and 1.5 Mbps for upload.
Asked why there was such a significant difference between the upload and download speeds, Maharaj explained that it is the way they have set it up and it is important that tests reflect a real-world scenario.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor