Fixed Mobile embraces non-metro wireless entrepreneurs to broaden its base in South Africa
Fixed Mobile Telecoms (FMT) has partnered with wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) who are members of WAPA (Wireless Access Providers Association of South Africa) in a drive to broaden its last mile network.
FMT requires reliable connectivity partners for its corporate customers with a national footprint, redundant connectivity and high levels of service delivery in metro and non-metro areas.
“Certain WAPA members in non-metro areas are ideal partners because they are held to high standards and high levels of service delivery,” says Ed du Plessis, CEO of Fixed Mobile Telecoms. “In addition to that, FMT offers these partners access to one of SA’s best carrier grade core networks in order to deliver top class services to the local customers they normally serve.”
FMT is the Platinum Sponsor of this year’s returning WAPALOZA. WAPALOZA is the Wireless Access Provider’s Association (WAPA) annual event, the only one of its kind in South Africa. Wisps can register at www.wapaloza.co.za.
“Fixed Mobile gave Wisps free IP transit during the lockdown when it was absolutely critical to the survival of their businesses,” says Paul Colmer EXCO member at WAPA. “Fixed has been a WAPA member and ardent supporter of all our events for many years and we are proud to have them as this year’s Platinum Sponsor.”
FMT’s programme with Wisps overcomes multiple challenges for both FMT and the WISP partner. Although many people and organisations initially prefer fibre connectivity, its availability outside the metros and larger towns is still limited. Certain quality Wisps in these regions can help overcome this shortfall by partnering with FMT to provide quality wireless last mile access to corporate branches in these areas.
FMT now also offers local Wisps the opportunity to provision services to the branches of corporate businesses in their region, which translates into more business opportunity for them. Where fibre is available, these Wisps can provision redundant connectivity to the fibre service for high availability requirements.
“Participating Wisps also have access to FMT’s unique 100% available carrier grade core network. It’s beneficial in that they do not need to engage with multiple providers to ensure that their networks are always available. It also means that FMT can control the corporate branch traffic from a hand-off point very close to the Wisp’s network, thus solving the problem of poor and contended backhaul quality. While Wisps tend to excel at last mile wireless services, they sometimes struggle with the core services, which is our strength. We unite these strengths into one integrated service offering for regional and national customers. It enhances our ability to deliver connectivity in more areas and offers Wisps access to national and enterprise customers they normally wouldn’t approach at a regional level,” says du Plessis.
FMT provides a range of corporate, as well as small to medium enterprise connectivity services, the latter mostly through technology partners who deliver the entire scope of IT services to SMEs, as well as national long distance (NLD) and carrier IP transit (Internet backhaul) services.
“Wireless is still extremely relevant, particularly outside the major metros,” says Rikus Jansen, MD of FMT. “As an example, we find that in national access networks, fibre only covers about 20% of the requirement and wireless is used for the balance in the form of non-metro connectivity as well as redundancy for fibre.”
He adds: “Wisps tend to be RF (wireless radio frequency) specialists, which means they provide good quality last mile customer experiences. Where they often struggle is in the core network elements, which is understandable, since that’s not their typical domain, but it certainly is ours. We also find that a lot of Wisps have trouble with carrier and backhaul service providers who provide poor uptime and lack quality support elements. Our engineers take care of those challenges by working alongside the Wisp’s engineers until the problems are sorted out, even if the problem is on their network.”
A great example of such a Wisp partner is Albie’s Wireless, who has about 250 high sites in the Northern Cape, reaching into the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Free State.
Albie Augustyn, owner and MD of Albie’s Wireless says: “I’ve been using the Fixed Mobile team since I started my business in 2012, this was even before the team started FMT. They really helped me a few years ago when I was having connectivity trouble with one of my other service providers. After my engineers and I failed to resolve a complex core network problem, a Fixed Mobile engineer came to the rescue and helped us resolve it. I’ve used the biggest names as service providers for my core network backhaul capacity before and never had that kind of service. Now I’m switching all my business to Fixed Mobile. I also no longer need to have a PoP in Cape Town, which was a high cost to my business, because of the way the FMT guys designed their network architecture.”
Jansen says: “Albie build links into a number of very rural sites for FMT corporate customers covering many hundreds of kilometres into the Northern Cape. This is the kind of mutually beneficial partnership we are talking about.”
FMT already partners with more than 30 service providers and will continue to bolster its partnerships with qualifying Wisps in areas where they have a requirement.
“Our partners must meet strict criteria,” says du Plessis. “For example, they must have backup power on their towers, quality backhaul, dual links where necessary and meet a range of technical and support process specifications. We work with them to ensure they meet the quality criteria and help them where they need skills and resources. That’s the only way to create a sustainable scenario for us, our customers and our partners, and to use the many years of telecoms experience we have, to build out connectivity infrastructure across the whole of South Africa and not only focus on the metros and large towns.”
Interested Wisps can contact Ed and Rikus directly at FMT.