Sentech has launched a revolutionary new broadband wireless service that will be available to millions of users across South Africa by May 2004, IPWireless announced last week.

Utilizing the standards-based IPWireless Mobile Broadband solution, Sentech’s new service, "MyWireless," is the first of its kind in Africa, and marks the fourth announced national deployment of the IPWireless Mobile Broadband system.

The full solution will be provided to Sentech through IPWireless’ strategic distribution partner Axcera with their South African agent, Fastcomm, which will be providing all equipment, as well as project management, integration services and support for the deployment.

Commercial availability of MyWireless services will begin in January in the Gauteng province, which includes the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg, Midrand, Pretoria, and Soweto, followed by Durban in February, Cape Town in March, with coverage to most of South Africa by the second half of the year. The service brings consumers and businesses in South Africa a high-speed Internet access service that will work from home, work, or on the road, all without wires. MyWireless offers speeds as fast or faster than fixed-wire options like DSL, and provides an instantaneous, "plug-and-play" Internet connection that is affordable, reliable, and cost-effective.

Because the technology works wirelessly, IPWireless-powered networks provide an ideal broadband alternative for consumers and businesses located in areas where DSL is not available. In addition, unlike DSL, the IPWireless solution offers full portability. Like popular Wi-Fi applications but without the limitations imposed by "hotspots," IPWireless-powered networks will give users in South Africa real-time access to data wherever they are in the coverage area.

"Internet access in Africa is regarded as among the most expensive in the world. Due to bandwidth restrictions, the reality of Internet connectivity in South Africa has long been characterized by low-speed, unreliable connections at an exorbitant and fluctuating price. Now, technological advances, such as those provided by IPWireless, and a new regulatory framework have enabled Sentech to launch the first true broadband wireless service offering, capable of delivering unrestricted, high-speed, portable, always-o n Internet access at an affordable monthly cost," said Dr. Sebilesto Mokone-Matabane, chief executive officer of Sentech.

The IPWireless Mobile Broadband system is based on the UMTS TD-CDMA standard, a global standard that can be used by operators and manufacturers worldwide. The commercially proven Mobile Broadband system, which includes a complete network infrastructure, pocket-sized wireless desktop modems, and PC cards (PCMCIA) for laptops and PDAs, will be supplied to Sentech through a partnership between Axcera, a strategic distribution partner for IPWireless, and Fastcomm, a new company founded by telecommunication industry veterans that is committed to bringing high-quality wireless broadband to the African market. Axcera markets its IPWireless-based solution under the Axity3G brand. Axity3G has already received full-type approval for the South African market by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).