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Mapping the road WiMAX

By | March 30th 2009
By | March 30th 2009

By Morton Saulo

After the landing in Mombasa of the first of three fibre-optic undersea cables, questions abound over which technology will best support the superfast broadband link.

One of the technologies often mentioned is WiMAX. Already, several information and communication technology (ICT) companies have adopted it.

WiMAX, a wireless broadband standard, holds the promise of combining the benefits of DSL, 3G and Wi-Fi in one platform that supports an entirely new breed of applications and range of operators.

With WiMAX-enabled handsets and laptops already coming into the market, people even those in remote areas could connect to a faster broadband Internet, without having to depend on slower mobile network data.

During a conference held in Nairobi sponsored by Aitec Africa experts gave thumbs up to WiMAX.

Mr Peter Othino, the service delivery manager at UUNET says faced with the challenge to improve service delivery to customers, manage and guarantee the SLAs we give, we set out to look for a network that would serve our customer base best.

Road to the future

"The techonolgy of choice was WiMAX broadband solution and in December, 2006 we lit up the waves with first WiMAX forum certified network, to drive us to the future," he says.

Othino says reasons why WiMAX is a certified technology and best for the fibre optic cable is cost saving.

"Customer will be able to receive higher bandwidth at lower cost and migration of full mobility 802.16e standard with up to 30 km range," he says.

Othino says the country will have multiple vendors of standards based equipment protection against vendor lock-in. The country will also witness strong alliance of powerful members. Already witnessed is the partnership between Kenya Data Networks, Interl Corporation and Alcatel Lucent sign a WiMAX mobile trial service.

WiMAX forum certified will allow interoperability with other vendor equipment, quick deployment – same day installs, and availability of self instal CPEs.

Other benefits include inbuilt QoS guaranteeing business quality voice and video communications One stop shop for last mile Internet, Voice, Video and Data services – Triple Play. But despite WiMAX being voted the best solution for rural Internet connection. Rami Cohen, the director of wireless products management Gilat Ltd says delivering broadband to the suburban or rural areas is challenging.

"Some of the inhibitors are low ARPU and low service penetration, high cost per line and wide area with low density population," he says.

He further identifies long backhaul reaching the Internet core, cell site infrastructure and access and cell site powering as impediments.

To make the business case prospective for broadband rural with VSAT and WiMAX, satellite can be succesfully used.

Unmatched Superiority

Cohen says as a solution to make the business positive with unlimited reach and terrestrial-free infrastructure, scalable to any number of sites must be used. He adds: "Rapid deployment, independent and centrally managed with unmatched reliability and superior availability is vital."

Cohen says WiMAX and Satellite enables both low line cost and deployment flexibility.

"The two require certain level of integration which is possible by a single owner of both technologies," he observes.

WiMAX can deliver video entertainment and voice telephone services more cheaply than the traditional telecom and cable-television services. It can also open up a whole new range of wireless e-mail and Web-surfing services in mobile computers.

Beginning next year, stores will stock new laptop computers equipped with Intel’s WiMAX-capable chips, code-named Echo Peak.

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