Wimax in Africa

WiMax and other wireless, large footprint, broadband internet access technologies interest me for one very simple reason.

Resilience.

Telecoms infrastructure (towers, switches, cables, microwave and transmission equipment) are about the first things to be attacked, pilfered or sabotaged in areas of violent conflict. Broadband internet and web access through ether offers communities living in the throes of violence a chance, through PC’s, mobile devices and other wireless capable devices to access and more importantly, contribute content to the internet and web.

Now an ITU standard, WiMax isn’t the only large footprint broadband communication technology out there, but it’s certainly got a boost in terms of UN backing. Intel, which lobbied hard for this, has lost no time in touting the technology’s potential to connect millions across Africa (that favourite destination of  corporate America’s social conscience):

Africa needs to embrace wireless broadband as a potential solution to the digital divide, the chairman of Intel Craig Barrett has said. It’s cheaper, easier and more efficient to communicate wirelessly,” he told the BBC News website. Less than 1% of Africans have access to broadband and only 4% use the net. The International Telecommunications Union has predicted that the Intel-backed Wimax system could become the dominant mobile standard in Africa. The continent’s geography and political barriers have made it difficult to roll out wired broadband.

Read the article in full on the BBC website here.

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