Nº 2 2014 > Broadband
ITU boosts broadband access in Africa
As a follow-up to the Connect Africa Summit, ITU is pressing ahead with its project to widen broadband access and uptake in Africa, in partnership with the Craig and Susan McCaw Foundation.
The project has been given a boost under an agreement with Nexpedience (one of the world’s leading suppliers of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure) to deploy 180 new broadband base stations worth USD 1 million in six African countries. These deployments will contribute to broadband wireless connectivity, providing free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals and underserved populations in rural and remote areas.
Burundi was the first of the six countries to benefit from equipment and training to establish a broadband wireless network in 2011. It is being followed by Djibouti — on 19 December 2013 a broadband launch ceremony was attended by ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré alongside Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh and members of his government. Similar deployments are planned in Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.
The training of local experts was organized in Burundi in March 2011. Professional training was provided at ONATEL’s premises in Bujumbura and focused on the following four modules based on Expedience (Nexpedience’s point to multipoint proprietary broadband technology):
- Module 1 — Expedience overview, infrastructure site preparation, installation and configuration;
- Module 2 — Expedience NetProvision system overview and operation;
- Module 3 — Expedience customer-premises equipment installation, configuration and operation; and
- Module 4 — Expedience net manager, element management, system configuration and operation.
Examinations were held at the end of the training course, and a certification awards ceremony was organized. Thanks to the training provided, 13 local engineers were able to assist in installing the broadband wireless network in Burundi.
The areas outlined in blue on the map of Burundi (see Figure 1) are connected. There are three sites in Bujumbura (the capital of Burundi), while the cities of Ngozi, Bururi, Mwaro, Gitega and Muramvya each have one site.
The network is operational, and 212 personal computers and other related equipment for local area networks in schools and hospitals have been provided.
Both the ITU Secretary-General and the Djibouti President hailed the broadband launch as a major step forward in connecting Djibouti to cutting-edge broadband technology for its socio-economic development. President Guelleh praised Dr Touré for his efforts to connect Djibouti — and Africa in general — to the global information highway.
The 4G broadband wireless network (mobile WiMax standard IEEE802.16e) for Djibouti has been set up in a highly secured environment to protect it against cyberattacks (Figure 2). The network is expected to be used for videoconferencing, e‑health, e‑education and e‑government purposes.
The deployment of a broadband wireless network is under way in Burkina Faso, with Nouna, Niangologo, Gorom-Gorom, Manga, Gaoua, Tougan, Koupela, Léo, Orodara and Yako having been selected as the sites to be covered. Negotiations with Airtel have been positive, and the appropriate backhaul solutions have been identified for each of the sites.
Lesotho has contributed USD 377 000 to build a broadband wireless network. Work on the network is now under way.
Interactive map of transmission networks
With a view to obtaining a global perspective of broadband connectivity that will allow the ITU membership to identify broadband investment opportunities, the Expert Group on Telecommunication/ICT Indicators and the World Telecommunication Indicators Meeting in 2012 encouraged ITU to develop a worldwide interactive map of transmission networks. A new set of broadband transmission capacity indicators has been identified for the purpose.
ITU has launched a project for building the first interactive online transmission map. Within the framework of this project, ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau will develop and release in the public domain an authoritative, leading-edge ICT-data mapping platform to take stock of national backbone connectivity (fibre and microwave), as well as other key metrics of the information and communication technology sector.