Mall of Africa, the vast new shopping centre that has been opened in Midrand, north of Johannesburg, has been given wall-to-wall Wi-Fi connectivity from open-access Wi-Fi provider Vast Networks.
The company said the Mall of Africa deployment is the largest shopping centre Wi-Fi installation in Africa. Mall of Africa was opened to the public on 28 April.
Vast Networks worked with specialist Wi-Fi equipment vendor Ruckus Wireless for the deployment.
The teams installed more than a thousand access points, along with a network backbone to support them.
Vast Networks planned the roll-out with its partners for more than a year, with technicians working on the site for nearly six months ahead of the mall’s opening, it said.
Mall of Africa has more than 130 000sq m of retail space and houses more than 300 shops.
Vast Networks is a joint venture between Dimension Data and Naspers and came about through the merger of the infrastructure assets of Internet Solutions’ AlwaysOn and Naspers’s MWeb WiFi businesses. Dimension Data holds 51% of the equity in the joint venture, with Naspers holding the remaining 49%.
Dimension Data Middle East and Africa chairman Andile Ngcaba serves as board chairman, while Grant Marais, who has previously held senior positions at Intelsat and Nokia, is CEO.
Vast inherited a large infrastructure base from the AlwaysOn and MWeb WiFi operations.
The company has introduced the “VAST” SSID, or service set identifier, at its locations nationwide. However, those that utilise the infrastructure to provide services to end users, such as AlwaysOn (now an anchor client), can retain or roll out their own SSIDs, or simply use the “VAST” SSID and associated landing page to connect their customers to the Internet.
In an interview with TechCentral late last year, Marais said Vast intends doubling the number of “carrier grade” locations it operates from 400 to 800 by late 2016. It has more than 20 000 discrete access points around the country.
Marais said Vast’s decision to embrace the open-access model for telecommunications meant anyone wanting to provide services to end users could use its infrastructure on the same commercial and technical terms. “They (Vast customers) experience the network as if it’s their own,” he said. “They don’t get to change parameters but they get visibility to every endpoint as if it’s their own network.” — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media