South Africa: 8ta to roll out LTE network


Telkom’s mobile arm, 8ta, has built six base stations using next-generation long-term evolution (LTE) wireless broadband technology, with 50 sites under construction and plans to expand the network to Cape Town and Durban in the next few months as part of a field trial.

The company is the third SA operator, after MTN and Wireless Business Solutions, to announce plans to build a radio access network using LTE.Telkom plans to use LTE as a substitute in areas where it doesn’t have fixed-line coverage as well as in places where it suffers from copper theft, says 8ta head Amith Maharaj says.

“Fixed-mobile [LTE] is a good substitute for ADSL-type services,” he says. It could also potentially be used to provide video-on-demand (VOD) services. Telkom has announced plans to launch VOD products within the next year.“For ADSL-type services, [LTE is] definitely an alternative,” Maharaj says. “You can offer speeds of above 10Mbit/s.”

However, he cautions that LTE is still “bleeding edge” technology and the pricing model must still be determined. There are also concerns around the device ecosystem that supports LTE and the “quality-of-service parameters”.In addition, installing sufficient backhaul is important to provide for the faster access speeds provided by the technology.
“Making too bold and too earlier a move [into LTE] and you could find your fingers burnt,” Maharaj says.