MWEB, one of South Africa’s largest Internet service providers (ISP), has selected Ruckus Wireless Smart Wi-Fi products and technology to support a new nationwide wireless broadband public access service. It will also provide managed enterprise wireless LAN (WLAN) services to businesses that exploit its vast fibre broadband service available throughout South Africa.
Owned by MultiChoice South Africa, a subsidiary of media conglomerate Naspers, MWEB has installed over 5,000 indoor and outdoor Ruckus ZoneFlex dual-band Smart Wi-Fi access points (APs), including ZoneFlex 7782 outdoor, and ZoneFlex 7982 and ZoneFlex 7055 indoor APs, throughout South Africa.
MWEB has installed Ruckus access points within high-density indoor locations such as malls, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and other public venues, with plans to deploy more than 15,000 more over the next 12 to 18 months. MWEB will operate 150 Wi-Fi Zones by the end of March 2014 using Ruckus products, offering dual-band Wi-Fi access, with plans to increase to over 500 sites by the end of 2016.
MWEB said it chose Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi because it offers superior, high-performance Wi-Fi, especially in dense urban environments and public spaces, which is enabling MWEB to achieve its strategy.
“Today’s hotspot experience in South Africa is good enough for low-bit rate traffic such as tweets or accessing online applications like Facebook but they just can’t handle multimedia and video content,” said Nathier Kasu, general manager of Wi-Fi at MWEB.
“We are one of the first service providers to really deploy a real working, carrier-grade wireless infrastructure in South Africa. Our goal has always been to build a world-class Wi-Fi infrastructure on a scale that today remains unmatched, and we’ve found that we could only really do that with Ruckus products and technology, due to their reliability and robustness.”
According to industry reports, mobile traffic will account for 26% of all South African data traffic by 2016. Mobile phone use in South Africa has increased from 17% of adults in 2000 to 76% in 2010, according to research firm Nielsen South Africa.
Today, more than 29 million South Africans use mobile phones over radio (28 million), TV (27 million) or personal computers (6 million). IDC forecasts that the wireless LAN market in South Africa will grow over 120 percent from 2012 to 2017 (relative to end user revenue).
“Africa remains one of the world’s biggest and best opportunities for delivering reliable, high-speed wireless broadband,” said Kasu. “Content-driven networks are a fundamental focus for us and we view building a world-class wireless infrastructure as strategic to the future and success of our fixed line operations in South Africa, allowing us to add good value to a new and existing subscriber base that is increasingly mobile.”
Kasu continued: “The long tail for Wi-Fi is the ability deliver content and offer value-added services to venues and other big companies who are willing to pay for services that they can monetize, such as location services.”
MWEB has already entered into a number of agreements with group companies in the hospitality, hospital care, and mall property management vertical markets, and more, where MWEB is supplying and managing Ruckus Wireless LAN equipment as a part of a complete broadband wireless offering.
“The traditional hotspot model is what we are NOT doing—we are building Wi-Fi Zones,” said Kasu. “Our strategy is to deploy Wi-Fi in strategic indoor and outdoor locations where people congregate in locations like shopping malls, hotels, hospitals, and theme parks and use Wi-Fi, but who want to use it for more sophisticated content such as streaming video and video on demand.
“Our coverage will be wider than traditional hotspot coverage, with a focus on providing almost blanket coverage in and around the venue, using a simple one-time registration and authentication process.”
The Ruckus ZoneFlex access points are centrally managed through full-redundant clusters of Ruckus SmartCell Gateways (SCGs) installed in MWEB data centers in Cape Town and Johannesburg. To deliver graphic-rich media content reliably, MWEB’s Wi-Fi network has been architected to support real-time video streaming and rich multimedia content within high-density locations.
From a single Ruckus SCG 200, MWEB is able to support hundreds of venues, with the ability to give venue owners a view into their specific infrastructure, and deliver customer client analytics on the use of MWEB’s installed Wi-Fi infrastructure at each location.
According to MWEB, its mission is to deliver South Africans an online experience second to none and one that is fast, simple, reliable and tailored to the needs of each customer – whether a consumer or a business.
Kasu noted that unlike other broadband operators around the world, MWEB believes that delivering uncapped, unthrottled wireless access with state-of-the-art Wi-Fi technology ensures South Africans the best possible Internet experience.
“Because Ruckus intentionally designs its products and technology specifically for carriers to deliver high-speed and reliable Wi-Fi connections within high capacity environments, MWEB can now focus on new markets, while adding more value to our existing consumer and business customers,” concluded Kasu.