Amobia Interview with Business Opportunities Mazagine

John Thwaits, technology journalist for BizAssist Technologies interviewed me about Amobia. The article should be in Business Opportunities magazine soon. I asked him if I could publish an online version here..

Amobia Communications Broadens the Wireless Horizon

Amobia Communications builds wireless networks to bridge the last mile gap. They have pioneered an innovative way to deploy wireless access networks and offer high speed wireless broadband services.

Amobia’s focus is on the emerging need for cost effective connectivity which can be rapidly installed. Amobia’s offering is the first practical alternative to Telkom’s Diginet leased line service. They have quickly built up a client list of “blue chip” companies simply because their clients prefer dealing with a smaller and more dynamic networking company.

The company has recently had growing media attention with the launch of it’s Johannesburg network, its contribution to a project to connect 100 schools wirelessly (SchoolWAN) and it’s part in the ongoing high court legal action to fight for the rights of smaller network operators to build their own network infrastructure. Johann Botha, one of Amobia’s directors speaks to BizAssist telling us more about their business.

How does Amobia differ from other wireless internet service providers?

Amobia’s wireless technology is cost effective enough to allow us to build network infrastructure with an organic business model. We have a vision of empowering local entrepreneurs to build and grow the Amobia network through a franchising model. Amobia has an inclusive business model, providing only infrastructure services in the business market. This allows us to partner with other ISPs to provide internet access to their customers.

When did you roll out your network?

We’ve been involved in the outdoor wireless business since 2002, but Amobia only built it’s own network in 2005. We connected our first customer in October 2005.

How does a client go about connecting to your service?

We install a CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) unit on a clients’ roof. The CPE device consists of a wireless transceiver with an integrated antenna unit, as well as a router board running our own custom embedded Linux operating system. Our software allows us to update and monitor the equipment remotely. The customer connects via a standard Ethernet point inside the building. Clients usually add a Wifi access point to create and indoor wireless LAN.

What is a ‘Last Mile’ connection?

‘Last mile’ or ‘local loop’, is a term used in building access networks. It’s basically how we distribute connectivity from a point of high density, usually an exchange or data centre, to the end user’s home or office. ADSL is another example of a last mile technology.

Is it your vision to establish a wirelessly connected city such as the metro-wifi projects in cities like Los Angeles?

We’re currently focusing on being an outdoor fixed wireless service provider, but we have plans for wifi hotspots as part of our “last yard” distribution model. We are about to launch a wifi hotspot offering after a pilot project with a network of about 50 hotspots performed very well in the town of Potchefstroom.

Is it a broader reaching alternative to WiMAX?

Yes, to an extent. WiMAX is also an outdoor wireless technology, but it’s not nearly as cost effective as Amobia’s technology. We offer solutions that will also benefit customers who are in remote locations and cannot receive mainstream internet access.

Would you offer wireless equivalents to compete with Telkom’s fixed line voice services?

Many of our clients use our wireless services for VoIP, but we don’t officially support voice services on our network at the moment.

Are you using Telkom’s Infrastructure or do you have your own?

We operate our own ‘last mile’ network, but we use Telkom’s services for the internet access side of our business.

What franchise opportunities do you offer?

Amobia has a successful franchise model for building networks outside metropolitan areas. We essentially packaged all the technology and systems we developed and created a business opportunity for entrepreneurs to provide a viable alternative to Telkom in their own communities.

Johann Botha is a founder and a director for Amobia Communications (Pty) Ltd. and chairman of the Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA).

More info:

Online version on BizAssist Website
Print version will be in the next copy of Business Opportunities magazine.