With noticeable developments regarding unified policies in the African Union, wireless vendor Ruckus Wireless believes that the key goal of anAfricawide standardised tele- communications policy should be to stimulate growth by springboarding Africa into a position that would allow for much easier trade between countries using WiFi technologies.
“We are in very exciting times from a technology perspective, as initiatives have been developed for applications that the rest of Africa needs. For example, Kenya currently has the M-Pesa system that uses cellphone and wireless technology to make moneyless transfers. It enables customers to buy goods at a supermarket and pay using their cellphones without paying with actual cash,” says Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa sales director Riaan Graham.
He further clarifies that using platforms such as Wave 2 WiFi will ensure scalable delivery, high- performance connection, simplified control and management for on-site and cloud-based WiFi deployments, as well as new services for secure on-boarding, policy management, location-based services and analytics that will allow for new business opportunities.
“In Africa, it is much easier for us to adapt high-quality technologies purely because we don’t have a huge dependence on legacy technology that has to be paid off and ‘sweated out’. Legacy technology would take years before it was upgraded to the following technology steps.
“In that regard, we feel that Africa is a good business environment with an opportunity to introduce leading-edge technology at affordable price points,” adds Graham.
He notes that high-end carrier- grade WiFi technology and connectivity on the African continent are in “immense demand”. It would be prudent of the company to establish a local footprint to service and support growing demand, he says, adding that “this is the predominant reason why we engaged with Africa”.
In terms of International Trade Investment (ITI), Graham notes that it is important to try to streamline legislation so that it encourages ITI development as well as investment, and that governments increase ITI penetration throughout the populace.
He explains that the key goal for the company is to ensure that there are quality WiFi technology sets available in the verticals that it services, such as education, hospitality, government, enterprise business and service providers.
Wireless Ruckus has introduced two technologies – Wave 2, also known as Multiuser MIMO (MU-MIMO), and 802.11ac – now offered as standard on all access points.
“Effectively, this enables the technology to increase the capacity that we are capable of transmitting across the WiFi network and that drives the end-customer experience to be much richer because it has ease of use and doesn’t struggle with capacity even when accessing bandwidth-intensive resources, such as video streaming,” Graham explains.
He also notes that, with this technology, the consumer can have a completely wireless infrastructure in an organisation or business. The service does not need significant cabled infrastructure and, with MU-MIMO and 802.11ac technology, speed is on a par with cabled infrastructure and users also enjoy ease of movement.
Another challenge the company faces is that service delivery needs to be understood from a customer perspective and the value that WiFi adds to a business or operation.
“WiFi is mostly perceived as complex, which is not the case; however, there are some key criteria that must be adhered to. These criteria include the importance of proper design and predesign principles that need to be followed to ensure proper coverage, easy connectivity and security for the consumer or business.”
Graham concludes that there is still a misconception in the African market about WiFi regarding the security of its connectivity or access. “There have been a lot of fallacies in the market for quite some time that WiFi is not secure. This is the challenge that is still being faced. Wireless infrastructure is now as secure as cabled infrastructure.”