Digital giants gets official nod for open access WiFi network

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Two of the biggest entities in South Africa’s tech industry has officially been given the go-ahead to form a joint venture to build a national “carrier-grade” WiFi network.

The new company, WirelessCo, has been given the operational nod by the South African Competition Commission, and will combine the existing networks owned by AlwaysOn and MWEB WiFi, and will create a new open access network which other operators will be able to buy wholesale space on.

“WiFi is fast becoming the preferred and most cost effective alternative to traditional data communications in a mobile environment, and WirelessCo will enable the accelerated roll out of a WiFi network that will ensure more and more South African’s can access the Internet affordably,” said Saki Missaikos, managing director of Internet Solutions, in a media statement.

AlwaysOn is owned by Internet Solutions (which is in turn owned by Dimension Data) while MWEB WiFi is owned by Multichoice. In terms of the deal, 51% of WirelessCo will be owned by Dimension Data, while the remaining 49% will belong to Multichoice.

“Business and individuals will benefit from an ubiquitous WiFi network across South Africa and we are looking forward to the challenge of building the largest open-access carrier grade WiFi network across the country,” Missaikos concluded.

Internet Solutions acquired a 100% stake in AlwaysOn in May, after acquiring 51% of the company five years ago.

“About 90% of internet access from tablets is done via WiFi, not through a 3G or 4G network.  There is also an increase in demand for cloud-based services and other high data-consuming functions at both the business and consumer levels,” said Sean Nourse, chief solutions officer, Internet Solutions, in a press statement.

WiFi as a mobile access tech is fast taking off through municipal projects such as Project Isizwe in Cape Town and Tshwane. Tshwane is officially launching its video on demand service streamed over free WiFi today, which has been running in a beta form for the last two months, and next year will add free voice calling to its network.

[Source -Internet Solutions, Image CC by 2.0/Nicolas Nova]



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