South Africa’s state-owned multimedia carrier Sentech is preparing to build a new national wireless broadband network, TechCentral reports. The firm’s previous attempt at rolling out a national WiMAX network – under the MyWireless brand – was shut down in November 2009 due to technological difficulties. Sentech chairman Quraysh Patel told TechCentral that the company is drawing up a ZAR2 billion (USD290.3 million) business plan, and promised that Sentech would not repeat the same mistakes that it made with its ZAR500 million MyWireless rollout. Over the last year, Sentech has come under pressure from industry executives urging the company to hand back its valuable radio frequency spectrum allocations in the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands. For his part, Patel suggests that Sentech should be allowed another chance to use the spectrum ‘efficiently’ before industry regulator Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) considers taking it back.
Describing MyWireless as a ‘complete disaster’, Patel commented ‘We spread 80 base stations across the country with no proper business plan. We hired in skills without thinking about the consequences and didn’t ask: what if this business fails?’ The new network, which will reportedly be future-proofed to allow for migration to Long Term Evolution (LTE), will focus on providing coverage to under-served, rural areas. Patel insists that the company is not going to ask its government backers for any additional investment, suggesting that the remaining ZAR1.5 billion worth of funding will come from provincial governments and town councils.