Begin-up in Gauteng develops antenna-based web resolution
A start-up based in Gauteng is currently developing an alternative, antenna-based, high-speed landline solution for low-income communities.
The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), part of the Department of Science and Innovation, has funded FibrePoynt (Pty) Ltd, which is developing the Internet / Wireless Communication System, which can be an alternative or complement to Fiber Optic Home (FTTH)) Earth or overhead line technology.
Sipho Dikweni, TIA Portfolio Commercialization Manager, said the technology is not only putting South Africa on the map, it is also responding to the country’s socio-economic challenges and strategic broadband needs to make the internet accessible to all, regardless of their socio-economic status and geographical location.
Dikweni added that peri-urban and low-to-middle-income households can now connect to the internet, which was not possible with current technologies.
“The innovation will also solve signal strength problems and costs typically associated with existing wireless rollouts of last mile antennas. The goal is to enable Internet network owners to deliver Internet to homes at a lower cost than is currently possible,” said Dikweni .
FibrePoynt technology uses passive beamforming, beam pattern diversity, and beamforming to send the best possible signal to the home devices, which then provides Wi-Fi to the end-user devices to connect to.
“FibrePoynt enables the rollout of the wireless broadband fixed network without digging up the underground fiber in the last-mile connection to homes, reducing infrastructure costs by more than 50%. The technology promises a cheaper, faster rollout and high speed alternative Use of broadband infrastructure in areas previously considered impractical.
“The technology is supported not only by an innovative and sustainable business model, but also by an inclusive model that provides local entrepreneurs with skills and the opportunity to operate and develop a network for their respective communities. Local empowerment is the critical antidote to socio-economic ills . We call on donors and network operators to support the full commercialization of this exciting and powerful technology, “said Dikweni.
The company is funded through TIA’s commercialization wing in the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) department.
The ICT department supports the development and use of ICT-driven innovations with far-reaching socio-economic implications that focus on artificial intelligence (AI), big data and blockchain, wireless connectivity and scalable ICT-inclusive innovations, thus addressing the challenges of unemployment , Inequality and poverty.
The ICT department also supports the development and commercialization of highly competitive innovative technologies that will increase South Africa’s competitiveness and participation in the fourth industrial revolution.
TIA was actively involved during the development of the FibrePoynt project, providing both financial and non-financial support to ensure that the project would be a success.
Combating digital inequality
Eduard Walker, CEO of FibrePoynt, said that a solution like FibrePoynt could ensure that the neglected get real internet on their smart devices in their homes and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We want to use this innovation to combat digital inequality,” said Walker.
As part of advancing the first TIA-funded technology innovation, Walker said FibrePoynt introduced HomePoynt, a derivative innovation that arose from the core wireless technology, FibrePoynt.
Walker stressed that a solution like HomePoynt is more critical in our society as “the spread of coronavirus has exposed the need to connect everyone to high-speed internet”.
He said this would make it easier for a larger segment of the population to access critical services like home schooling.
“HomePoynt is an innovative last-mile connectivity solution that can reduce Internet costs for unlimited WiFi to R 89.00 per month. The technology was developed with a focus on townships, peri-urban and urban areas, thus reducing the digital divide closes in underserved areas.
“HomePoynt connects users to core broadband networks in a peer-to-peer setup and provides wireless Internet service to homes and public areas that already have backhaul coverage but no end-user access,” said Walker.
As part of the market validation, Walker added that FibrePoynt has developed an innovative model for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) called Kasiwave, which transfers the skills to the local communities to build and maintain the network infrastructure.
“The aim is to ensure that 20% of the revenue goes to local communities,” he said.
(With contributions from the press release of the South African government)