In February Supersonic, the local ISP from MTN, launched its AirFibre solution as an alternative for areas of the country where fixed line connectivity was not available. Since its availability was announced, MTN says it has received over 20 000 expressions of interest in AirFibre, with the ISP aiming to bring it to 60 000 homes over the course of 2021.
The company explains that the significant interest is down to the fact that many people in South Africa need more reliable internet connectivity or greater bandwidth now that they are required to work or study from home as a result of lockdown. Added to this is the fact that fixed line fibre is not as ubiquitous as many may think, and this wireless solution provides a viable alternative.
“The beauty of AirFibre is that it serves as an alternative to the labour-intensive rollout of cabled fibre, by using MTN’s existing reception network,” says Calvin Collett, MD of Supersonic.
“The immense interest and demand for the solution has been nothing short of amazing and reflects the critical need for high quality internet across the country. MTN used the period since the launch of AirFibre for customers to register their demand,” he adds.
To that end, the first commercial rollout will commence in Soweto, Mamelodi, Fairlands and Honeydew, according to Supersonic.
“While the rollout of fibre has been fast in big metropolitan areas, it has been much slower in peri-urban and rural areas. With AirFibre, we have found a cost-effective solution to help close the digital divide,” Collett enthuses.
Further explaining what makes AirFibre an intriguing alternative, the MD notes that, “It harnesses existing open spectrum frequencies, which can lower the cost to serve customers. This is built as a premium uncapped technology that ranges from 5Mbps to 100Mbps, which allows users access to the internet as a full-fibre experience.”
Taking a look at the landing page for AirFibre on Supersonic’s site, the pricing for different packages is not considerably less expensive than its fixed fibre alternatives, with it starting at R399 for 5Mb/s and topping out at R999 for 100Mb/s packages.
That said, given that these are aimed at areas where fixed lines are few and far between, the value proposition is an interesting one.
As Supersonic readies for a commercial rollout in four areas in Gauteng, with Soweto representing the largest, it will be interesting to see what the uptake is like and whether the 60 000 target for AirFibre is surpassed this year.