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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 a lack of cable infrastructure, mobile network providers entered the ISP space by providing Wi-Fi devices for people to enjoy Wi-Fi at home. These devices are good for mobile connectivity but not good enough for fixed broadband connections at home or office.

  • 240 times lower bandwidth per base station than K3

    Such devices operate on 20 MHz to 40 MHz split users. It means each user gets about 70 Mbps per base station. In contrast, K3 operates on 600 MHz and has 17,000 Mbps per base station, outperforming mobile networks x240.

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

  • Unreliable

    Mobile networks cannot control how people move between base stations and who buys SIM cards and connects to each tower. If a tower is overloaded, its speed drops or stops working. Secondly, many regions in Africa lack the mobile infrastructure to support current users.

  • High Capex to reach many customers

    Mobile networks need many base stations to distribute the load, and towers are not sufficiently available.

  • Coverage range

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

  • Less control

    Individual control is impossible. Hence, mobile networks cannot assign different speeds and other parameters to different users.

  • 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

    Users can easily misplace their Wi-Fi device, have insufficient battery charge, or get poor reception within the house.

  • Costly IP TV

    Users resort to satellite TV because IP TV requires fast connections and abundant bandwidth, which is mostly limited. Satellite TV has many shortcomings, including downtimes when it rains.

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

  • Point-to-Point is fast, expensive, and not scalable

    Typically used for business connections, hotels, or VIPs. The setup and bills cost over $1,000 per customer. It is not scalable as each client requires a corresponding link to the tower, limiting connections to 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

    Subject to disturbances since it operates on free frequency bands. It can connect about 50 to 100 users to one base station. IP TV is expensive for operators because IP TV users demand high backhaul capacity (i.e., if 100 people watch HDTV at 5 Mbps, the operator requires 500 Mbps. Meanwhile, it costs nothing for 100 people to watch HDTV with K3 because it broadcasts IP TV within a closed system).