Former banking CEO to launch ‘high-speed LTE-A’ network for SA

Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) chairman Paul Harris has announced a multi-billion-rand investment in a new high-speed LTE-A national data network for South Africa.

Harris is the founder and former CEO of FirstRand bank, while WBS, which owns iBurst, was acquired by network management firm Multisource in 2015.

The network will use WBS’s existing spectrum in the 1,800MHz and 2,600MHz bands.

The two bands will be aggregated, which will enhance the capacity and performance of the network.

It will be enabled to support 5G when the technology is rolled out internationally in the next five years, and will place South Africa among the leaders in the field, said the company.

“The network will be designed to carry high speed data. It is an Internet network, as opposed to a voice network that also carries data,” said WBS.

A number of sites are already in operation, and existing iBurst customers will be brought onto the new network.

“The network will provide super-fast broadband to consumers and businesses alike. It will be superior to ADSL offerings and an attractive alternative to fibre-to-the-home,” said WBS.

“Once the network is rolled out, WBS will be able to offer mobile broadband on smartphones, tablets, and other devices supporting the Internet of Things.”

The new network will be deployed on several of WBS’s 400 sites, and will be extended up to an additional 10,000 sites from independent tower companies and sites leased from other companies.

WBS has concluded a transaction with Vodacom to lease some of its passive infrastructure as it expands the network.

“All facilities leasing agreements concluded with other licensed operators will be lodged with ICASA in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements,” said WBS.

WBS said it may enter into roaming agreements to extend its coverage.

The national LTE-A roll-out will start in the next few months, the company said.

The LTE service will be marketed under a separate brand, which will be launched next year with “innovative products and simplified pricing plans”.

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Former banking CEO to launch ‘high-speed LTE-A’ network for SA