Vodacom has reached an agreement to roam on Wireless Business Solutions’ (WBS’s) LTE-Advanced network, according to a report.
Vodacom will benefit from WBS’s LTE-A broadband network through a roaming deal with the company, MyBroadband said. The deal with Vodacom is non-exclusive, the website quoted WBS chairman Paul Harris as saying.
“The new LTE-A network will have significant capacity, which [will] allow other networks to roam on it,” Harris reportedly said.
The deal, and ones like it, will allow WBS to generate revenue while it builds out its network.
The deal comes as the chances of the big mobile operators getting access to new radio frequency spectrum anytime soon appear to diminish.
Government’s national integrated ICT policy white paper has proposed the creation of a national wholesale wireless open-access network for which, controversially, all unallocated mobile spectrum will be reserved. The policy even proposes the idea of taking back existing spectrum allocations from the mobile operators, a move that critics have labelled unconstitutional if enforced.
A protracted battle between the big incumbent mobile operators and government may be on the cards, making it doubtful that they’ll get access to new exclusive-use spectrum in the short or even medium term.
Meanwhile, WBS has also reportedly concluded a deal with Vodacom to use the company’s high sites. According to the MyBroadband report, WBS will have at least 500 sites active on Vodacom facilities by March 2017, with that number accelerating to 5 000 by 2020.
Ironically, the reported agreement between the companies comes just two months after WBS was ordered by the high court in Johannesburg to pay Vodacom more than R40m in interconnection fees. The court ordered WBS to pay Vodacom R41,5m plus interest, and to pay the mobile operator’s legal costs.
The agreement between the parties was entered into before the acquisition of WBS by Multisource — a company backed by Harris and Michael Jordaan, both former top bankers — and before a change of management at the company.
In September, WBS, which owns owns iBurst and Broadlink, said it would invest billions of rand in a new, data-led LTE-A wireless broadband network.
The network would use WBS’s existing spectrum assignments in the 1,8GHz and 2,6GHz bands, it said.
Existing iBurst customers would be converted to the new network.
“The network will provide superfast broadband to consumers and businesses alike. It will be superior to copper/ADSL offerings and an attractive alternative to fibre to the home,” the company said.
Multisource’s shareholders and directors include former MTN chief technology officer Phumlani Moholi, former Leaf Wireless boss Brandon Leigh, Design Indaba founding CEO Ravi Naidoo and Multisource CEO Duncan Simpson-Craib, along with Harris and Jordaan. The company has 30% black shareholding, which will be maintained after a planned capital raising. — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media