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IT Web, Front Page 10/03/2020

Posted on Mar 10 in News-Publicby Press OfficerPrint

Making do without WiMax

By Candice Jones, ITWeb online telecoms editor
Johannesburg, 10 Mar 2020

Local alternative telecoms player O-Tel has unveiled its commercial national wireless network, using open frequencies to serve the SME space.

CEO Mohammad Patel says O-Tel is working on a strategy that will give it access to some of the available spectrum for WiMax (space in the 2.5GHz or 3.6GHz range). However, until there is clarity around how the spectrum will be auctioned, the company has made use of the alternative, he explains.

O-Tel was one of the 300-plus value-added network service providers to have its licence converted to the coveted iECNS licence, in January last year. Since then, the company has slowly been increasing its customer base and needed to provide a reliable last mile solution for its digital telephony services, notes Patel.

He explains that the company has started offering commercial services on its newly constructed wireless last mile network, which uses open frequency bands in 5.8GHz and 2.4GHz. “If we manage to procure WiMax spectrum, the technology only requires a few basic changes to run in those frequencies.”

While the company hopes to get its hands on WiMax spectrum, it does not have the 30% BEE requirement the regulator initially stipulated was needed to enter into the auction for the 2.5GHz and 3.6GHz bands.

However, Patel says O-Tel has several strategies in play that may put it in line to either directly receive the spectrum, or lease it from another business.

O-Tel will not release details on how its last mile network is backhauled, since it does not seem to be leasing infrastructure from the incumbent operators. “We will be in a position to talk about the backhaul in two months,” notes Patel.

The new network is built with infrastructure supplied by the company’s partner, Mikrotik, which has evolved the wireless solution into a mesh network. Patel says meshing allows the network to stay functional even if one of the nodes in the network falls over.

O-Tel says it plans to make the most of its iECNS licence and hopes to provide to a larger number of customers off its new network.

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