MWeb applies for extension of trial WiMax licence in South Africa


MWeb has applied for an extension to its WiMax trial licence, in case the official licences are not awarded in the next few months. The trial licence awarded earlier this year expires in January 2008.

Anton Gaylard, new business development manager of MWeb Connect, says the company is expecting the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) to make a decision in the next three months. “We are confident that we will be successful, but, as a precaution to ensure our networks stay up-and-running, we have applied for an extension.”

According to Gaylard, to fully deploy WiMax, MWeb needs two licences: an Electronic Communications Network Licence (ECNS), which entitles the company to build its own network; and a WiMax radio frequency spectrum licence. “We have the budget in place and are waiting on ICASA's decision. Based on the success of our trials, we are very positive about the future,” he explains.

Gaylard says for the extent of the trial period, the company budgeted around R31 million for roll-out. The trial areas in Johannesburg include Randburg, Sandton City, Soweto, Boksburg, Midrand and Baragwanath.

ICASA says it is busy with deliberations following hearings held with regard to the allocation of WiMax spectrum. It will release its final recommendations once the process has been concluded.

MWeb is positioning itself as an independent telecommunications provider, and has recently expanded its brand into a traditionally under-serviced market. “There is strong latent demand for bandwidth in Soweto. The size of the trial, as well as the usage on the networks, is increasing,” says Gaylard.