In terms of performance, fibre-optic broadband is the connectivity standard that people aspire to, but for many in Africa, it remains elusive.
There are markets beyond urban centres that are hungry for the level of connectivity that will enable true participation in a digitally transforming world. 4G has an important role to play in bridging that gap.
The role of LTE
The fibre rollout in South Africa is now at an advanced stage with businesses and consumers in metropolitan areas across the country enjoying world-class connectivity standards. Outlying and rural areas are largely beyond reach, and while the rollout of fibre continues, these areas need an interim solution. Even in locations where ADSL is available, the service may be adequate, but is offered on ageing infrastructure that does not provide high performance. And businesses still need a solution for redundancy.
LTE offers a superior alternative that is increasingly solving these problems. The rapidly expanding footprint of the LTE network is overcoming the challenges of the country’s vast, mountainous areas and succeeding where old copper lines could not. Through a partnership with Cell C, IS has recently expanded its LTE coverage with more than 2 900 LTE base stations operating on two key bands including 1800MHz and 2100MHz, providing alternative solutions in the fixed broadband market. While there are pros and cons to LTE, its vital role in Africa’s connectivity mix is undeniable.
LTE’s unique strengths
The inherent advantages of LTE are compelling, the most obvious of which is high speeds and reliable connectivity. LTE is also a highly flexible last mile solution that can be deployed very quickly without the need for trenching and complicated installations. It’s ideal to get premises online in a hurry while the installation of fibre lines in the area is pending. LTE also makes a great failover solution for businesses in areas that still rely on ADSL even after fibre has been installed.
A disadvantage of LTE is the inconsistency of connection speeds. That’s because performance depends heavily on factors such as distance from the nearest tower, spectrum availability, congestion and other environmental factors. But the technology has improved significantly in recent years and will continue to do so.
LTE supported by fibre
Wireless connectivity is becoming increasingly capable due to the coupling of fibre networks and 4G (and soon 5G). Fibre networks offer the backhaul and carry the heavy load while 4G bridges the last mile – a model well-suited to the challenges of Africa’s geography.
The “fibre land-grab” phenomenon in eastern and southern Africa is well-documented, and it’s steadily raising the standards of connectivity in those regions while fuelling demand for ever-faster broadband. Deployment of fibre to the home (FTTH) is still relatively limited for now, leaving large markets underserved and presenting opportunities for wholesale LTE services.
Partner with IS to offer LTE
IS has a well-established and rapidly growing LTE network which wholesalers can leverage. And the range of LTE packages offered by IS allows consumers to choose a solution that suits their requirements. If you would like to play a role in connecting Africa by offering LTE from IS to close the gap beyond the reach of fibre, become an LTE-A reseller.