Unlimited Air Fibre rollout in South Africa delayed by chip shortage

Over 25,000 people have signed up for Supersonic’s Unlimited Air Fibre service since it was first announced in February, but the company has only been able to connect fewer than 100 subscribers due to the global chip shortage.

Supersonic explained the issues it is facing with getting networking equipment after MyBroadband Forum members reported being unable to take up the new wireless uncapped service due to stock issues.

The ISP connected its first commercial customer with Unlimited Air Fibre in early May, and at the time said it had big plans for an expansion across various locations without fibre connectivity.

Supersonic CEO Calvin Collet stated the aim was to connect 60,000 homes one year after the service’s launch.

“The stock issues have been incredibly frustrating for us as we’re sure they’ve been for other international service providers sitting with the same issue,” Supersonic said.

Supersonic claims Unlimited Air Fibre offers fibre-like performance, capable of providing consistent download speeds ranging from 5Mbps to 100Mbps.

The solution employs cutting-edge noise cancellation technology to transfer data while operating on open spectrum frequency in the 5.8GHz band.

This means it avoids the traffic congestion typically experienced on licenced mobile frequency spectrum bands.

This specialised radio equipment developed by Tarana Wireless is installed on MTN cellular towers that are connected to fibre backhaul.

This transmits and receives data to and from a client antenna installed at the user’s home.

While the tower-based equipment has already been rolled out in Soweto, Honeydew, Mamelodi, and Fairlands, an international stock shortage on router components has led to a delay in the supply of client devices.

The company said it only had 100 units in the country at the moment and was working hard to roll these out to customers.

“Short of getting on a plane ourselves, we are doing all we can to get the units into South Africa as quickly as possible and appreciate our customers’ patience,” Supersonic stated.

The images below from Tarana Wireless provide a basic overview of how the service works.

Supersonic said that with stock on hand, deployment would normally take around three to five working days, from sign-up to getting connected.

While the current Unlimited Air Fibre customer base is small, indications are that it is working well.

“The technology itself has exceeded expectations and we have not had any negative feedback from any Unlimited Air Fibre customers,” Supersonic said.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger warned that it would be at least several months before the strain on chip supplies begin easing, and years until Intel catches up to the surging demand.

Mark Liu, the chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, said that they believe they can catch up to the minimum requirements of their customers by the end of June.

Now read: Uncapped Wi-Fi for R5 a day

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Unlimited Air Fibre rollout in South Africa delayed by chip shortage