WBS planning LTE network in SA

Wireless Business Solutions (WBS), the holding company of iBurst and Broadlink, said today (10 October 2011) that they will be rolling out a fully fledged commercial LTE (Long Term Evolution) Network by mid-2012.

“It is no secret that our future is in LTE and as such, we are very excited about this development! We have also alerted the Regulatory Authority (ICASA) of our intentions on LTE,” said WBS in a press statement.

According to WBS their LTE network will de-congest the 3G demands of areas in Gauteng such as Sandton, Randburg and Westcliff by offering high speed mobile services.

The company added that this should help them to realize revenues of approximately R3 billion per annum.

Full press statement below:

Wireless Business Solutions (WBS), the holding company for some of the country’s leading telecommunications companies including iBurst and Broadlink, will be rolling out a fully fledged commercial LTE (Long Term Evolution/4G) Network by mid-2012.

LTE is a global standard for wireless communication of high-speed data. It is based upon GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, with equipment vendors, system integrators and end-user terminals now widely available throughout the world. It is no secret that our future is in LTE and as such, we are very excited about this development! We have also alerted the Regulatory Authority (ICASA) of our intensions on LTE.

WBS expects that this will provide a huge growth opportunity in the country’s broadband market. This development will afford the company the opportunity to decongest the 3G demands of areas in Gauteng such as Sandton, Randburg, Westcliff etc, by offering high speed mobile services, and should help WBS realize revenues of approximately R3billion per annum.

Executive head of Regulatory Affairs at WBS Mlindi Kgamedi, says South Africans in general are hungry for high speed mobile broadband services.

“If such services are offered at good prices and efficiently, we expect the take-up to be quite remarkable,” he said.

The number of operators around the world committing to the LTE standard is increasing with the Global Suppliers Association (GSA) reporting that there has been a near 100% increase in the past 8 months. There are now 51 network commitments in 24 countries – an increase of 96% over the past 8 months.

WBS has operated the iBurst technology (a proprietary technology) successfully since March 2005 and we have in that process, managed to build enough network capacity to be able to support our current clientele as well as cater for future requirements. We have through our customer care services also managed to support our client base successfully.

We boast all these successes thanks to our stable and reliable backhaul network, our fibre rings, satellite infrastructure, and of course, one of the largest transmission networks in the country.

Our average network speeds are around 150 Mbps and we are already transmitting over 150 Mbps on our satellite network. We have direct ownership and access to both the EASSy and the SAT – 3/WASC (Cable Systems).

Through this massive infrastructure we serve amongst the very best of blue-chip companies and some of our clients include amongst others, mobile operators, the banking industry, the mining industry, other telecommunications operators, the insurance industry, FET Colleges and District Municipalities around the country.

Why LTE?

WBS will be able to offer users a mobile broadband service over a truly 4G network, and we will NOT have to completely upgrade our entire network infrastructure. This is because we have an evolution path towards 4G in our network allowing us to offer users a whole range of benefits and new facilities so that they can get far more out of their mobile broadband service.

Some of the countries which have deployed LTE in the 1800/1900 MHz and 2600 MHz spectrum similar to what South Africa is intending to do include Hong Kong where China Mobile and CSL Limited have been allocated 2 x 15 MHz blocks of 2600MHz FDD spectrum, and there too, there are plans to deploy LTE by re-using their GSM (900/1800) spectrum.

We are also not ruling out possibilities of spectrum sharing and partnering in the deployment of LTE. World trends show that other operators have also opted for similar rollouts. In further efforts towards expanding its rollout of LTE, mobile broadband services  provider Vodafone Hutchison Australia, has recently entered into a deal with the state rail Authorities for access to its 1800MHz mobile broadband spectrum.

We currently have all the required ingredients to be able to offer LTE services in the shortest space of time including;

    • Operational requirements;
    • Regulatory requirements,
    • Network transmission and backhauling requirements; and
    • Financial requirements.

WBS also views LTE as an area that will stimulate job creation in the country. Our key areas of focus will be;

    • Infrastructure deployment;
    • Content development;
    • Products development;
    • Skills transfer and skills export in the LTE technology area.

We estimate that approximately 1000 direct and 5000 indirect jobs should be created through this initiative. Kgamedi says the company envisages that there will be almost 5 million LTE network users in SA in the next 5 years.

“This will accommodate government’s and the regulator’s objectives of ensuring that our rural areas are brought into the information super highway in a manner that will leapfrog current technological development trends to deliver true broadband,” he said.

He said the deployment of LTE means that the delivery of rich rural content will be effected at the touch of a button.  This in turn will create a platform that will enable global exposure of the content, and in turn increase revenue generation from international markets

WBS has already signed up agreements with reputable international partners for equipment supply and equipment funding.

We envisage commencing the LTE deployment this October, and will continue until the first phase where 2,500 base stations are to be built, is completed. WBS expects to launch commercial 4G services in the 1st half of 2012, and we see this as an early Christmas present for the entire country.

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WBS planning LTE network in SA