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WiMAXstands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. It is an emerging telecommunications delivery platform that can provide high-speed mobile wireless data over long distances for highly data-intensive applications -- a sort of super Wi-Fi. These characteristics have generated a great deal of commercial interest in the service as a potential alternative to cable and DSL for the “last mile.” (The “last mile” is the final leg of delivering connectivity from a communications provider to a customer, an expensive and challenging component of data delivery infrastructure.)

WiMax has the potential to overcome “last mile” infrastructure challenges, and also enable high-speed delivery of data to remote locations.

WiMAX can provide maximum speeds of 75 megabits per second (mbps), shared by a number of users connecting to an access point. Companies like Motorola are already achieving 20 mbps at local pilot sites, which is twice the speed of other broadband wireless data technologies. (3G technology , for example, achieves speeds of 5-10 megabits per second.) WiMax is also much cheaper to establish and maintain than GSM cellular infrastructure.


  1. [[WiMax And Africa#commercial support|Commercial Support for WiMax]]
  2. WiMax in Africa
  3. SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats)
  4. [[WiMax And Africa#case studies|Case Studies]]
  5. Intel Promotional Wimax Video
  6. References

Commercial Support for WiMax

A number of companies are backing WiMax technology, among them Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola, Samsung Electronics, Nokia and smaller companies like Alvarion of Israel. Intel will also play a large part in ensuring the future of WiMax, in the same way it accelerated the adoption of Wi-Fi with its Centrino laptop chips. Intel is currently developing chips for laptops and networks that will allow access to WiMax, which is due to enter the consumer market in 2008.

However, most telcos have invested heavily in 3G technology networks, and they may well be reluctant to spend a lot of money on WiMax. The technology is yet to be commonly implemented, even in developed countries. But WiMax has its place in developing markets, where fixed-line phones are non-existent and cellphone networks are more primitive. DSL is extremely limited n Africa, and African countries do not have the resources to start laying fiber cables, especially when there is an alternative technology that may offer superior services for smaller investments.

WiMax in Africa

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has predicted that the Intel-backed WiMAX system could become the dominant mobile standard in Africa. According to the ITU, WiMAX networks are currently being employed in nine countries in Africa, including South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana.

An OECD report looked at the overall prospects for WiMAX, given that the technology is widely touted as one to that could beat both Wi-fi and third-generation mobile networks. Setting up a nationwide WiMAX network in the US was likely to cost in excess of $3 billion and third-generation mobile operators have invested heavily in new networks. They are more likely to upgrade their existing networks with technologies such as High Speed Downlink Packet Access. Africa’s advantage is that this investment has yet to occur; Africa could potentially leapfrog DSL / Cable / GSM and go straight to mobile WiMAX networks, which can deliver high-speed long-distance broadband data and voice services. WiMAX could then drive cheaper connectivity in Africa.

There is a shortage of fibre cable links between African countries, and very few states have extensive copper wire networks for ADSL broadband. The continent's geography and political barriers have made it difficult to roll out wired broadband. Over the past three years, deregulation and telcommunication prioritization initiatives by New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) have encouraged competing service providers to enter the market. WiMAX will bring the standardization's low cost advantages and allow new entrants and incumbent local exchange carriers to compete and construct viable business cases in addressing residential and business customers.

One of the major challenges faced by African operators is the ability to build a viable business case, given the low-income populations. There is, however, an opportunity to provide broadband to businesses and high-end users in the short-term. For broader adoption to take place, a “prepaid” retail model, similar to those used for mobile phone services, would need to be implemented to control bad debts.

WiMAX Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats





Case Studies:

Mobile Phone Customers
Available data show that by the end of 2006 there were 5.2 million mobile phone customers, representing 25% of the population. Only a very small number of Ghanaians are Internet broadband customers – according to the National Communciations Authority (NCA), as of March 31st 2006 there were only 3,620 Internet broadband customers, which represents a mere 0.016% of the population

Broadband Internet Customers
Ghana has experienced a 1,932.7 % rate of increase in Internet usage between 2000 and 2007. As of 2007, 2.8 % of the population use the Internet. In mid-2006 a nationwide roll-out of WiMAX was announced for Ghana, starting with the capital city of Accra. Backers hope that the roll-out hwill be the first ever nationwide deployment. High consumer demand, coupled with poor DSL access and long customer connections, meant that Ghana was ripe for mass market, rapid install, of broadband wireless services. Mobile WiMAX has the advantage of the ability to be deployed in areas that haven't been built out with existing broadband and telecommunications infrastructure such as DSL and cable broadband. Internet Ghana, a leading Internet and data service provider, will deploy the nationwide network. Market testing started in Accra, with Internet Ghana offering a weekend of free access to existing subscribers of its current mobile wireless broadband product in July 2007.

WiMax in Democratic Republic of Congo
Microcom is the leading Wireless Internet Access service provider in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DMR). The company has been offering a Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) service for a number of years, but in April 2005 it announced the roll-out of WiMAX-ready equipment to provide high-speed data services to corporate and residential customers in the city of Kinshasa. The president of Microcom, Mr. Leon Ntale, explains that the move to WiMAX wireless broadband is the most cost-effective means of providing high-speed data to customers in Kinshasa. Kinshasa has approximately 8 million inhabitants and little wired infrastructure. WiMAX enables wider coverage, higher data speeds for Internet access and VoIP, and other services which were not possible with the previous network. The first deployments will be in areas where connectivity has proved to be extremely difficult due to the non-line-of-sight conditions.

As at September 2007 1.9% of the DMR population were Internet users. This represents a growth rate of 13,900.0 % since 2007.

Intel's Promotional Video On WiMax