Faster, cheaper internet to be rolled out
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Johannesburg - South Africans will soon experience super-fast internet connection.
Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) announced this week that it is investing billions in a new national high-speed LTE-A network in South Africa.
The company, run by former FirstRand co-founder Paul Harris, tech-savvy former FNB chief executive Michael Jordaan and Design Indaba boss Ravi Naidoo, aims to bring fibre-like speeds, initially to home users, bypassing the growing fashion of fibre-optic cable connections in South Africa’s suburbs.
The WBS network is expected to be rolled out in the next few months, and is further set to enable 5G technology and make South Africa “leaders in the field”.
The new wireless technology will be distributed through 400 WBS sites and other telecommunications providers.
The next generation 5G technology is said to be 100 times faster than current network connections.
It will not initially be a competitor to existing mobile operators, but will provide sim-enabled routers for home use until its national network is established.
“We will initially launch with 4.5G or LTE Advanced Pro,” Jordaan told the Saturday Star. “It is a precursor to 5G which will enable us to be at the forefront of 5G adoption globally when it occurs.
“In essence, we will be able to provide much more data and faster data. We hope to improve the situation for consumers by increasing competitive intensity from early next year.”
The new 4.5G network technology will not only be much faster than 3G and 4G, but also less expensive.
“It’s certainly our intention to have a product with simple, innovative and very competitive pricing. We want to leverage those benefits for consumers,” said Jordaan.
“Currently in South Africa, we are overpaying for data and airtime. We think that out-of-bundle data pricing is a very strange way to punish customers for using more of your service.”
As things stand, 4.5G is only available commercially in Norway, but is being tested in countries such as Germany, Canada, Kuwait, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Jordaan added that the introduction of 4.5G has the ability to change the lives of internet users in South Africa.
“It will revolutionise everything from online education to video streaming for entertainment, and enable entire new industries such as self-driving cars - and truly launch the 'Internet of Things'.”
The new 4.5G network will use the very latest equipment that is available on the market that is at the cutting edge internationally, added Jordaan.
“We have already conducted successful tests of the network. Roll-out will start in geographic areas like Joburg and Cape Town, but our target is to have over 10 000 sites nationally in five years.
“As a data network we will focus less on voice and SMS, in favour of applications such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime and VoLTE, which are far less expensive than traditional Voice and SMS.”
Jordaan added that the new LTE-A network could also boost South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as R64â€…billion.