Naspers was interested in buying AlwaysOn, but Internet Solutions did not want to sell it, IS CEO Saki Missaikos told MyBroadband.
In the end, the companies entered into a joint venture called VAST Networks.
Dimension Data, the parent company of Internet Solutions, owns 51% of the venture, while MultiChoice parent Naspers owns 49%.
Missaikos said VAST’s aim was to offer wholesale access to Wi-Fi on an open access basis.
“What we don’t want to happen [in Wi-Fi] is exactly what happened in the mobile industry,” said Missaikos. Infrastructure is duplicated, making network roll-out inefficient.
With VAST, the idea was to put up access points around South Africa, and everyone can participate on a share basis – a model which has proven successful for them.
Internet Solutions plans to expand VAST’s infrastructure to provide wholesale access to unlicensed spectrum for mobile operators to use in Licensed Assisted Access, or LTE-Unlicensed networks.
“We don’t believe Wi-Fi will replace licensed spectrum,” said Missaikos. However, it can complement mobile networks by offering Wi-Fi offload and additional wireless carriers.
Missaikos said their access points will soon be heterogenous – “hetnets” – supporting unlicensed Wi-Fi and licensed LTE services.
This will allow operators to extend their normal coverage over IS infrastructure, in addition to using the Wi-Fi carriers.
It will also help enable dynamic carrier switching down the line.
Device manufacturers like Apple already have virtual SIM technology. Combined with carrier-agnostic radio equipment, this could allow subscribers to switch between mobile networks when needed, he said.