WiMax 'offers hope' for Africa broadband

2011-11-15 22:35
Dr Mohammad Shakouri has said that African governments should not only focus on LTE for mobile broadband. (picture provided)

Dr Mohammad Shakouri has said that African governments should not only focus on LTE for mobile broadband. (picture provided)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Cape Town - African governments should explore alternative means of getting broadband to their citizens in the absence of affordable technology, an industry player has said.

"For a continent like Africa… broadband doesn't exist, fibre doesn't exist, backhaul doesn't exist and it's in the really early stages," Dr Mohammad Shakouri, vice president of Alvarion in the WiMax Forum told News24.

Several ideas are being punted to be the next standard in mobile broadband communications as there are huge profits for the companies that choose the right strategy.

Costs are a significant factor and Shakouri conceded that WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) has been losing the marketing battle.

"From the perspective of the actual activity, we see that market noises from the press and the big mobile operators are all about LTE [Long Term Evolution]."

Broadband infrastructure

He said that the LTE standard would take a long time to develop, and that it would not serve the need in Africa.

"The cellular industry has been starting to pump a lot of marketing activity regarding LTE and the reality is that LTE will take 5+ years to develop and commercialise, similar to the time it took the 3G technology to happen.

"My perspective, what we see as the real need for Africa, is not WiMax, LTE, or any of these technology buzzwords. You need to get affordable broadband into the countries," said Shakouri.

Most internet users in Africa use wireless networks to access the web as the cable broadband infrastructure is too far removed from end users, despite several fibre optic cables that encircle the continent.

Mobile operators have focused on data as the dominant revenue stream in the short term and key to ensuring this is the availability of spectrum to rollout wireless broadband infrastructure.

"One of the key things for broadband is the spectrum. The key question from our perspective is not what technology is best or what it does, it’s what is the spectrum that is available," Shakouri said.

The minimum broadband speed is defined as 256 kilobits per second (kbps) even though India has suggested this be increased to 512kbps.

Globally accepted

For wireless networks in developing countries, the speed is dependent on whether the spectrum is available.

Shakouri said that operators have to work within the realities of what was available, particularly in Africa.

"That kind of spectrum does not exist today in Africa for operators. Government regulations have not done it. From that point of view, I see the buzzword of LTE needs to tie to the reality of spectrum pulling networks together."

He acknowledged that LTE was the more globally accepted system, but said that it still faced challenges in universal access.

"For sure, technology like LTE will come to Africa, but the truth is that if you look today, the only real deployment of LTE is in the 700MHz in the United States; that's the real mass market.

"And even there, they have yet to make the business case to work."

Alvarion has 70 commercial deployments of its WiMax technology throughout Africa, but critics said that global standards would serve Africa's interests as the cost of manufacturing comes down.

'Leverage' technology

"In order to deliver these [wireless] services at price points that are affordable, and to be able to provide handsets to the market that are affordable, the road that has to be taken has to be the more travelled road - the internationally standardised and harmonised road," Paul Lyons GSMA director for spectrum policy in Africa and the Middle East told News24.

"For Africa, a continent with nearly one billion inhabitants, to gain additional economies of scale, it needs to harmonise with other regions of the world so when chipset manufacturers are making the chips that go into these devices, they can mass produce a huge volume of these chips, driving the price per chip down," he added.

Shakouri held the view that no single technology could immediately resolve the issue of mobile broadband in Africa.

"In order to be successful in Africa, you need to be able to leverage Wi-Fi technology, you will need to leverage WiMax technology, you will have to be able to leverage LTE technology."


- Follow Duncan on Twitter
 

Read more on:    mobile  |  broadband
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Newlands - 12:32 PM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Wynberg Hill and UCT due to 2 Oceans Marathon
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Torch 9810

The BlackBerry Torch 9810 gives you the powerful combination of...

From R2820.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.