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Somaliland's wireless broadband project targets one million subscribers

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Somaliland's fibre-optic service provider, Somcable, has contracted South African provider of wireless solutions Bluwan to roll out wireless broadband in the country as it seeks to provide one million subscribers with access to high-speed broadband by 2015.

The project, valued at more than $3 million, plans to enable Somcable to provide high speed internet voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) , IPTV and video on demand services.

Bluwan will deploy its Fibre Through The Air (FTTA) Access solution to deliver fibre-like capacity of up to 8 Gbps to wireless broadband end-users.

Somcable holds an exclusive 25-year licence for the rollout of Somaliland’s first fibre-optic infrastructure.

Somaliland is an unrecognised self-declared de facto sovereign state with a population of under 4 million people. The state is internationally recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia.
Somcable's chief executive Michael Cothill said high-speed broadband will help transform Somaliland into a knowledge-based economy.

“The lack of high-capacity backbone networks in the Horn of Africa means that wireless technologies are an important part of our strategy. Somcable has invested heavily in deploying thousands of kilometres of fibre in the region, and Bluwan’s FTTA demonstrates the effectiveness and potential of new wireless technologies as a complement to optical fibre networks,” said Cothill.

The solution is also expected to improve business at the Horn of Africa, enabling users to work from home, use cloud applications and exploit e-Commerce and video conferencing opportunities.

The FTTA will initially be deployed in the capital city Hargeisa, where rocky terrain and lack of existing infrastructure prevails . It will later be rolled out in Burco, Borama and Berbera cities.

Consumers will be able to download and watch movies and music videos, and enjoy TV over broadband. They will also play online games, access educational materials and information and receive medical help and diagnosis from their own homes.

The fibre-optic service provider will also leverage FTTA to facilitate SomCloud Wireless Access Points, creating shared, public WiFi hotspots and low cost broadband access for additional consumer segments located in strategic areas across Hargeisa.

In the future, Somcable plans to deliver service in Djibouti and land locked countries like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan.

Shayan Sanyal, chief commercial officer at Bluwan said the project puts Somaliland ahead of other African countries that have been slow in embracing next-generation broadband.

The solution will be delivered and integrated by New York headquartered global provider of managed network communication solutions, Globecomm Systems. Steven Yablonski, chief technical officer at Globecomm said the wireless broadband will unlock vast array of previously untapped applications on the African continent and change the landscape of communications in the region.

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