We were at Aquiva Wireless in Harare the other day, talking to the founding team about developments at the Internet Access Provider. There are some interesting developments alright; it’s Mobile WiMax offerings, fibre, VSAT and some VoIP services to launch in a few months.
Aquiva is one of Zimbabwe’s 12 POTRAZ licensed Internet Access Providers. You will remember we last wrote about Aquiva when the operator closed a US $7.2 million with Huawei in May last year. Apparently, since then Aquiva has rolled out a mobile WiMax network, installing base stations in both Harare and Bulawayo.
According to Aquiva Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder, Artwell Mataranyika, the company is already offering Mobile WiMax and in addition optic fibre, and VSAT (Satellite) connectivity. Mataranyika however explained that Aquiva is working more with ISPs and and enterprises as it believes it’s role is to work on making the network as efficient as possible while allowing ISPs to service Internet consumers directly. “Our plan is to offer through ISPs but we also cater for individual needs, especially corporate solutions.” he explained.
Mobile WiMax is a relatively new technology allowing for mobile Internet connectivity and was implemented in Zimbabwe by Ecoweb (an Econet subsidiary) in April last year. Other licensed IAPs are reportedly working on mobile WiMax offerings too and this year should see a number of them launch services.
On the VoIP front Aquiva says their network is ready to roll out services to customers but they need to conclude interconnection agreements with Telecommunication Operators Association of Zimbabwe (TOAZ) members. The TOAZ members are NetOne, TelOne, Econet and Telecel. Aquiva hopes to be connected to TOAZ operators in the next few months.
The term VoIP refers to Voice over Internet Protocol, a technology providing voice and multimedia communication services over standard Internet connections. VoIP implementation and use generally results in a drop in telecommunications costs. A common implementation of VoIP is Skype.
On the expected impact of VoIP on telecommunications, Aquiva CEO and Co-founder, Brian Maphosa, explained that in the next few months VoIP will result in a drastic drop in the cost of telecommunications in Zimbabwe. He added that the cost reduction will be immediate especially for corporate customers currently relying on fixed and GSM mobile telephony for everyday business communication.