Telkom set to offer wireless broadband in 2007

WiMAX will offer an alternative high-speed link between customers and its networks.

Telkom “may introduce WiMAX” technology next year. This is according to CEO Papi Molotsane, Bloomberg reported today.

Molotsane was speaking at Satnac, a Telkom-hosted technology conference, at Spier outside Stellenbosch. This is the latest in a series of relatively opaque announcements made by Telkom about the actual deployment of WiMAX.

The fixed-line operator has been testing WiMAX since 2004. The technology (defined as Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) essentially provides wireless broadband and allows telecommunications companies to offer so-called “last mile” connectivity to customers without laying copper (or fibre) cables.

Essentially, WiMAX connects your home or business to a telephone exchange.

South Africa’s second national operator, Neotel, said last week it will use WiMAX technology to connect customers to its network in most areas (where it does not have cable infrastructure).

WiMAX will form part of Telkom’s next generation network (NGN) to be completed by 2010.

On announcing Telkom’s R30bn capital expenditure programme (which includes the NGN) in April, chief sales and marketing officer, Wally Beelders, said that one of its key strategies is to take advantage of fixed-mobile opportunities (including WiMAX).

Telkom also reiterated in its most recent results presentation that WiMAX is a key project related to its NGN, and that it will begin deploying a network to complement its ADSL rollout.

In presentations to analysts this year, Telkom has highlighted WiMAX as a technology that will be commonplace in “less than two years”.

At the end of last year, Rudolph Muller predicted that WiMAX would “become commercially available in SA during 2006”. He cautioned, however, that consumers would have to wait for 2007 for extensive availability of the technology.

Telkom has an agreement with Intel to trial WiMAX in SA.

All three of Gauteng’s Metros have partnered with the private sector to roll out WiMAX.

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Telkom set to offer wireless broadband in 2007