An update sent out by one of Zimbabwe’s largest internet service providers, ZOL, confirms (what the industry has been saying for about a month now) that Aquiva Wireless and Aptics are having major issues delivering internet via the WiMAX platform. The ZOL update was sent out some 6 days ago and read in part:
As many you have experienced, we are having major difficulties with our WiMAX suppliers and this is affecting the WiMAX platform as a whole. We understand that this is causing you a huge inconvenience and we sincerely apologise for this.
The good news is that we are working on a new solution that we believe will offer you great service. It will not require you to change anything on your side. We expect a new solution to be in place within a couple of weeks. In the meantime we will continue to work closely with the current suppliers and move around between base stations in order to minimize your downtimes. Please bear with us during this period.
So far the Aptics has acknowledge that there are “Several issues” but did not clarify what exactly the issues are.
Aquiva Wireless has also acknowledged the problem and explained that the problem is with the WiMAX technology they use which, according Aquiva Chief Operations Officer Artwell Mataranyika, is yet to mature as a technology. Mataranyika further explained that while the problem had persisted for over a month, they have since come up with a solution with the assistance of their technology vendor. The solution is currently being implementing and they expect the network to be stable by April 2.
It’s not clear why the problems have affected both Aquiva and Aptics at the same time yet they are two different companies that, as far as we know, have two separate networks. Mataranyika did not shed much light on this only commenting that the WiMAX technology specifications they use are identical to Aptics and that usually they are affected by the same issues.
While it’s not clear exactly how many internet users were affected but it appears it’s a significant number of users in Harare. The WiMax service provided by the two Internet Access Providers (IAPs) has been a popular last mile broadband solution implemented by three of Zimbabwe’s largest internet service providers, ZOL, YoAfrica and Africa Online (part of Telkom owned iWayAfrica). The mobile WiMAX technology became popular because it costs much lower, is mobile and way faster to implement on the customer side than fixed WiMAX, UHF Radio or Fibre solutions.
ISPs like ZOL, YoAfrica and iWayAfrica, are not authorized to install operate any telecoms network infrastructure by the telecoms regulations of the country. They rely on Internet Access Providers (like Aptics, Aquiva and the 10 other POTRAZ licensed IAPs) for last mile connectivity to customers.