After SEACOM touches the shores of east Africa, this part of the world will finally be connected to the broadband network. However, the SEACOM cable is just the backbone of the connectivity. The “Last Mile“ is the final leg of delivering connectivity from a communications provider to a customer. The actual distance of this leg may be considerably more than a mile, especially in rural areas in Africa.
The hunger for information and communication technologies can only be stilled by these last mile services which prove to include considerable challenges. Laying cables trough the vast space of the African continent would take forever, fortunately wireless technologies are meeting the african demand. WiMAX is brought up as the solution and investments are well underway.
But there is a new kid in the town of wireless connectivity. This kid might delay the process of widespread broadband connection in Africa. A big battle appears to be between WiMAX and a technology that doesn’t yet exist, LTE. This new technology is making investors weary of investing in WiMAX because they believe it is already outdated. The WiMAX industry has been bragging about its time-to-market advantage over LTE. Mobile WiMAX networks are rolling out this year. LTE networks aren’t expected to become commercial until 2010 or 2011.
It will be interesting to see when the new technology will be introduced and how it will affect the leapfrog Africa is about to make.