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General broadband technology comparison

Mobile Network based ISP connections

  • Good for mobility but inherent capacity and reliability problems for fixed broadband use

    Due to lack of cable infrastructure, mobile players started to enter the ISP space by providing Wi-Fi devices for people to have Wi-Fi at home. These devices are good for mobile connectivity but are not good enough for fixed broadband connections at home or business use.

  • 240 times lower bandwidth per base station than K3

    Operates on 20 MHz to 40 MHz split between all people. This means you are getting about 70 Mbps per base station. For comparison, K3 operates on 600 MHz and has 17,000 Mbps per base station, providing 240 times the performance.

    Once a mobile network based set up connects more than 200-300 people to a mobile tower, the network collapses.

  • Unreliable

    Cannot control how people move between base stations and who buys the SIM cards and connects to which tower. If a tower is overloaded, speed drops for everyone or stops working. Secondly, Africa in most places doesn’t have sufficient mobile infrastructure to support even its current users.

  • High Capex to reach many customers

    It needs a lot of base stations to distribute the load, and towers are not everywhere available.

  • Coverage range

    Effective coverage only 1-2 km, while K3 covers up to 50 km.

  • Less control

    It is impossible to assign different speeds and other parameters to different people. Individual control is not possible.

  • Old technology in use

    In 2019 Sub-Saharan Africa mobile infrastructure was comprised of (GSM Association, 2021):

    • 2G networks - 46%
    • 3G networks - 45%
    • 4G networks - 9%
  • User experience

    Easy to misplace the Wi-Fi device, batteries go empty, bad reach within the house.

  • Costly IP TV

    Resulting in users buying Satellite TV. IP TV would require fast connections and lots of bandwidth that is mostly limited. Thus, users typically default to satellite TV that doesn’t work while it rains.

Point to Point and Point to Multipoint (such as Cambium, Ubiquity)

  • Point to Point are fast but very expensive and note scalable

    Usually used for business connections, hotels, or VIPs. Set up costs over $1,000 per customer and monthly costs over $1,000. Not scalable as each client requires its own corresponding link to the tower; thus, you can only connect about 50 customers per tower.

    Point to point connection

    Figure 6 Point-to-Point tower

  • Point to Multipoint connections (other than K3): Unreliable, slow, and limited scalability

    Operates in free frequency bands, thus subject to disturbances. It can connect about 50 to 100 users to one base station. IP TV is expensive for operators as users are getting TV through IP TV which requires a lot of backhaul capacity (i.e., if 100 people watch HDTV at 5 Mbps, the operator requires 500 Mbps. While for K3 if 100 people watch HDTV, it doesn’t cost anything as K3 broadcasts IP TV within a closed system).