MWEB Nigeria uses non line-of-sight wireless to pitch broadband and VOIP services

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On 8th June MWEB launched their new fixed wireless internet service in Nigeria offering wireless access to the internet through affordable equipment and bandwidth speeds of up to 2MB. The non line of sight, always on and bi-directional service that delivers data via a licensed UHF radio frequency means that a user is not required to have direct visibility to the base station unlike microwave technology. As a result, this new broadband service has already attracted 80 subscribers since being rolled out in Lagos and that number is growing, writes Mapara Syed.

With a start-up cost of N120,000 (USD921), which includes all equipment (antenna, outdoor unit and indoor modem), installation and set-up commissioning, Jannie Van Rhyn, General Manager at MWEB Nigeria, outlines the advantages of this high-speed alternative to homes and businesses. “We make no money out of the equipment installation. Our revenue is made through our customers subscribing to the service so we want to ensure we look after them and offer the highest quality as well as most affordable internet services,” he said.

The price range and product offerings cater for a wide variety of needs and users, thus appealing to both the consumer and corporate markets. Van Rhyn explained how users can select from shared bandwidth right through to guaranteed bandwidth options.

“The shared bandwidth packages start off at N14,000 (UAD107) a month and provide a minimum of 32kb and 128kb upload and download speeds respectively, with different permutations available as well. This is primarily aimed at home users who use the internet for emailing and browsing. The guaranteed bandwidth options priced from N84,000 (USD645) a month are better catered for companies who may have many users and have a VPN. Our largest package for N254,000 (USDUSD1949) a month offers upload speeds of up to 64kb and download speeds of up to 128kb,” he said.

“Currently the ratio of corporate and consumer customers subscribed to the service is roughly 50:50. Around half the 80 users we have at present are SME’s and the remaining half SOHO’s and home users,” Van Rhyn added. “Our clients use the service mainly for internet connectivity with a number of clients using it for PBN.”

MWEB Nigeria also offers an end-to-end solution for VoIP through their fixed wireless service and VSAT. The solution, with a gateway in the United States of America provides high quality voice calls to their fixed wireless and VSAT subscribers at very competitive pricing.

However, the number of MWEB’s Fixed Wireless subscribers using the service for VoIP has not been promising so far. “We currently have 2 Fixed Wireless clients who use the service for VoIP. At the moment, we only offer VoIP internationally so that is outbound calling from Lagos. Only larger businesses, within our clientele, that need cheap international calling will require this product,” said Van Rhyn. “We do not offer internal VoIP calling but that is because it has not been requested by any of our clients as of yet. If requested, the technology is there to make it available,” he added.

Nevertheless, Van Rhyn is convinced that in such a large market as Lagos, the number of customers they can attract to their new broadband service will exceed expectations.

Whether MWEB Nigeria extends this product to other parts of the country will largely depend on technological advancements according to Van Rhyn. “As far as this product is concerned our focus is Lagos although our long-term strategy is to offer wireless internet in all major cities in Nigeria, but just not necessarily using the same technology,” he said. We are going to see how wireless technology develops before we commit to expanding.”