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Cut the cord: Wireless Internet the way forward

To reach equal footing with the rest of the world, South Africans should embrace wireless alternatives, says Jaco Visagie, co-director of Skywire.

On a farm located in the heart of the South African wine country, after having the Telkom line stolen for the umpteenth time and subsequently being stuck without a landline and Internet connection for days – also for the umpteenth time – the frustrated farmer finally threw in the towel and switched to a wireless service provider.

These days, this is not a unique situation, says Jaco Visagie, co-director of Skywire. As cable thieves continue to nab the copper-based wires that are so commonly still used in local lines – not only by South Africa’s major fixed-line operator, Telkom, but by the country’s power utility, Eskom, as well – it leads to frequently interrupted business operations, thereby having an adverse effect on the economy as a whole. It is reported that the problem of cable theft is so rampant, it costs South Africa an estimated R5 billion annually in damages.

In November, Telkom revealed it had experienced an 80% drop in profit for the first half of 2012. The incumbent operator, which had once held a monopoly on all of South Africa’s telecoms operations and most of the country’s copper-based network infrastructure, has been experiencing a sharp decline in popularity as consumers continue to defect to other alternatives. The recently published results of the 2011 Statistics South Africa Census reveal the number of households in South Africa that still boast a fixed-line telephone has decreased dramatically over the past decade, from 23.9% in 2001, down to only 14.5% of households in 2011. In contrast, mobile usage has seen steady growth.

Despite the arrival of several new undersea fibre-optic cables to pipe broadband into the country, all that data still remains out of reach of most South Africans. A recent report released by Google suggests that South Africa’s broadband penetration was recorded at approximately 8.5 million users by the end of 2011. While that is a marked increase from the 6.8 million recorded a year earlier, it still only stands at 17%, which does not compare well with other big economies in Africa, such as Nigeria, where broadband penetration stands at 29%. Apart from Nigeria, South Africa also lags behind Egypt, Morocco and Kenya in terms of broadband usage.

To reach equal footing and then keep pace with the information telecommunications industry of the rest of the world – which is crucial to the local economy – South Africans should embrace wireless alternatives, suggests Visagie. This innovative company provides satellite, wireless and microwave-based broadband and telecommunications services to South African businesses of all sizes.

“There is a misconception among consumers that wireless solutions have latency issues; that wireless isn’t as speedy as fixed-line broadband,” says Visagie. “Copper wire networks are not necessarily faster anymore. In fact, with advancements in wireless technology, they even surpass fixed-line speeds. Fibre-optics is faster, but deployment, and costs, are still stumbling blocks when compared to wireless solutions.

Apart from keeping users up to speed, Visagie says wireless holds other benefits as well. “With wireless, you can reach even the most remote areas, it is easily deployed once the main infrastructure is in place, and the endpoint costs are lower too,” Visagie concludes.

Skywire

Skywire provides wireless, microwave and satellite broadband and telecommunications services through a compelling business concept that leverages advances in technology and proprietary tools to fill market needs. Skywire is committed to helping its clients manage all of their telecommunication needs, from finding the best solution to support after the service is up and working.

Skywire provides a viable and innovative alternative to the inefficient, costly and frustratingly unhelpful incumbent. With a focus on saving its clients time and money, Skywire allows them to focus on improving their businesses by bringing them advanced telecommunication technology.

www.skywire.co.za

 

Editorial contacts

Skywire Technologies
Glen Warrington
Operations Manager
(+27) 86 72 72 606
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Exposure
Mia Andric
(+27) 83 564 0087
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