TechInAfrica — Mimosa by Airspan, a US-based wireless broadband solutions provider, has announced its partnership with systems integrator NEC XON. They work together to provide affordable hybrid-fibre-wireless (FiWi) services to South African businesses and homes.
According to Mimosa, FiWi nertworks involve wireless devices mounted at fibre locations, transmitting signals wirelessly from point to point and ultimately to each subscriber.
When these networks are fed with a fibre connection to the Internet main support, they are still considered as “wireless” networks because of the way they transmit signals.
FiWi allows the deployment of less expensive networks using millimeter wave technology, to give subscribers a convenient and fast alternative to fibre solutions.
At the NEC XON Summit 2019 yesterday at Sun City, in the North West Province, Andrew Westerman, head of sales at Mimosa by Airspan, explained FiWi is seen as a promising technology for next-generation broadband. It is particularly providing advantafges for customers in rural and under-developed regions.
“This brand new partnership, signed two weeks ago with NEC XON, aims to bring low-cost high-speed connectivity to the South African masses. We see the South African market as a huge opportunity to provide good quality connectivity to areas which have no or poor-quality Internet connectivity, including homes, businesses, and schools in marginalised areas,” explained Westerman.
“If you go to the UK, for instance, almost every house has fibre or WiFi, but if you go to the developing countries, like SA, we are still seeing a large part of the population not having Internet access in their homes. Our products are designed to bring Internet connectivity at a lower cost to the masses.”
The collaboration will see NEC XON provide its base stations and the architecture. At the same time, Mimosa provides wireless technologies, with the services distributed by local Internet service providers, including Afrihost, Internet Solutions, and Home Connect.
He also mentioned that all these years, Internet connectivity has improved from initial dial-up connections, DSL and cable offerings, to fibre and wireless for broadband connectivity.
Network operators that once relied exclusively on fibre or wireless are now being compelled to diversify for a combination of reasons, for instance, the high costs and time-consuming task of rolling out fibre networks, Westerman said.
“Ideally, it would be great to install fibre solutions everywhere in SA, but the reality is that due to cost and time factors, this is not possible. Fibre allows a fibre connection only up to a certain point, where it makes economic sense to do so, but then beyond that, you can use wireless to extend that connection to a place where the home or business is, providing the best combination in terms of cost, convenience and speed. But fibre remains a key point of the solution because typically you are adding wireless to the top.”
He adds that FiWi is not a new technology. The concept around it has constantly improved as more resellers recognize its value and potential. It is useful especially in making traffic from an affected optical network unit to be effectively re-routed to backup wireless connections in the event of a distribution fibre failure.
“The reason we are able to bring this service at low cost is because we don’t operate on the same model as mobile operators, who spend multimillion-rands buying spectrum from the government. The spectrum that we use is the 5GHz band, which is licensed for free, and the equipment we use is also significantly cheaper than that used by telco operators, hence they provide Internet services at much high prices,” he concludes.