MWEB upgrades WiMax network


MWEB has upgradedits WiMax network, resulting in improved performance which may allow them to include new trial customers. MWEB has deployed a trial WiMax network in Gauteng and Cape Town serving around 700 trial users with unlimited broadband Internet access. The aim is to extend the trial to 1 000 users whilst observing the technology and network capabilities and testing the true performance of the service.

The company currently has seven base stations, 4 in Johannesburg and 3 in Cape Town, and MWEB is looking to erect another base station in the Cresta/Northcliff area in Johannesburg. The deployment is based on the Mobile WiMax (802.16e) standard using Alvarion equipment.

Eugene van der Westhuizen, GM for new business projects at MWEB, said that they recently performed a software upgrade on their WiMax network which has resulted in significant performance improvements. Van der Westhuizen said that the speed improvements seen after the upgrade are substantial enough that the company may now try to connect people who were not initially successful as trialists due to poor coverage and throughput.

MWEB is currently trialing a 256 Kbps, 512 Kbps and 1 Mbps service, but the company is confident that it will be able to launch a 2 Mbps service using WiMax should they receive adequate spectrum from ICASA. MWEB is however not the only company hoping for spectrum from ICASA, and large players like Altech, Internet Solutions and Vodacom all have big plans for WiMax. The only company that has so far rolled out a commercial WiMax network is Telkom, while Neotel, Sentech and iBurst all have WiMax spectrum at their disposal.

Sentech has recently indicated that they will invest in a WiMax network after receiving R 500-Million from government and Neotel is also deploying a WiMax network in parallel to their CDMA rollout.