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Wireless Connectivity FAQ's

Do I need a license to offer Wireless Connectivity services?

Yes. ICASA requires you to have the necessary licenses in order to provision and operate a Wireless network.

More information on the Licensing in South Africa can be found in our Electronic Communications Licensing section by clicking here.

Throughput testing - How fast can the network go?

Before you test just how fast your network connection is, remember that you are limited by the package by which you have purchased. Even if the equipment is capable of carrying higher speeds, you may be limited by your package.

What is the actual usable capacity of a particular network link?

You can get a very good estimate of your throughput capacity by flooding the link with traffic and measuring how long it takes to transfer the data.

While there are web pages available that will perform a “speed test” in your browser (such as http://www.dslreports.com/stest or http://speedtest.net/), these tests are increasingly inaccurate as you get further from the testing source. Even worse, they do not allow you to test the speed of a given link, but only the speed of your link to a particular site on the Internet. Here are a few tools that will allow you to perform throughput testing on your own networks.


http://fgouget.free.fr/bing/index-en.shtml. Rather than flood a connection with data and see how long the transfer takes to complete, Bing attempts to estimate the available throughput of a point-to-point connection by analyzing round trip times for various sized ICMP packets. While it is not always as accurate as a flood test, it can provide a good estimate without transmitting a large number of bytes.

Since bing works using standard ICMP echo requests, so it can estimate available bandwidth without the need to run a special client on the other end, and can even attempt to estimate the throughput of links outside your network.

Since it uses relatively little bandwidth, bing can give you a rough idea of network performance without running up the charges that a flood test would certainly incur.

What does Line of Sight (LoS) mean?

A clear line of sight (LoS) is one of the most important conditions for creating reliable wireless links. All wireless signals are attenuated when they encounter obstructions. The goal for every network designer is to reduce the amount of attenuation by deploying clear LoS links.

Despite what the term LoS implies-the ability to see from point A to point B without any obstructions, wireless line-of-sight requires more than being able to easily see from one location to another. Wireless signals travel in waves, not straight lines, which mean that the signal is radiated outwards from the antenna-not linearly.

Read more about Line of Sight in our About Wireless Connectivity section by clicking here.

Are there are Bandwidth Optimisation mechanisms available?

Yes, there is one Bandwidth Optimisation facility which has been well accepted amongst providers called ViBE.

Information on how ViBE works and other Bandwidth optimisation methods can be found in our Forum under Bandwidth Optimisation.

How dependable is Microwave connectivity?

Microwave systems can be designed to provide "5 nines" availability.

Obviously, anything that blocks the transmission path for a substantial length of time will affect performance. Properly designed systems are virtually unaffected by rain, snow or fog. Design engineering includes an availability statistic which states a given percentage uptime. Design goals are so-called "5 nines" or 99.999% availability which translates into a few minutes annually.

Other than the effects of atmospheric conditions, the only other variable is the equipment itself, which is no different than any other electronic device.

Is Microwave only for Internet, or can you use it for Voice as well?

Absolutely. The degree of latency is very low since microwaves travel near light speed. Consider a microwave path as just another piece of plumbing, except that instead of water, you're delivering bits of information.

How secure is Microwave connectivity?

It depends on what you're sending, whether IP or T Carrier, and the system that you use. When it comes to IP, if the information is encrypted before it is transmitted, then depending on the type of transmission, it can be very secure.

In some cases, manufactures equipment can sense when a potential hacker attempt is made, and will shut both ends down. In other cases, specific matches between transmitting and receiving are part of a design, so unless there is an exact match, hacking of data becomes impossible.

What is the difference between Licensed and Non-Licensed microwave?

ICASA regulates all radio transmission, whether licensed or non-licensed. With that said there are frequencies set aside by ICASA for non-licensed situations.

Basically, you can install a system without the time and expense involved in getting a license. The problem with non- licensed technology is that ANYONE can put up a system that might interfere with another system. There's no such thing as "squatter's rights". If you have interference, and you can't arbitrate or eliminate the problem, then you're stuck.

Can weather affect the quality of service?

Like any wireless signal, changes to the environment can cause interference, however only severe rain and snow should affect your service.

Can other equipment interfere with a wireless internet signal?

There are known issues with interference, including (but not limited to) amateur radios, existing microwave towers or antennas, and other 2.4 or 5.8 Ghz wireless devices. If you have a 2.4 Ghz cordless phone, you will need to locate it at least 10 feet away from your computer, antenna cable, and/or antenna.

What does a typical installation include?

Most providers will install a Radio outside the business that will connect to the Network which connects all of your devices.

This will require a small hole to be drilled through your exterior wall. An ethernet cable will then be connected from the outside to one jack on that radio, and the other jack will have an ethernet connection to the network switch.

How long is the wait to get service?

This really depends on the Wireless Provider and the internal process for applications. The actual implementation and activation can happen in a single day because wireless technology is not dependent on, or limited by, Telkom and its copper wires.

Is Satellite the same as Microwave wireless?

No. Fixed wireless is much faster and more reliable due to its design. Terrestrial (land-based) fixed wireless networks are made up of access points located on building roof tops and towers across the county. Subscribers must have line of site to these towers.

Fixed wireless is a low latency service not impacted by weather conditions, unlike satellite services which may deliver high latency and poor web browsing performance.

What is Contention and what does it mean?

When a user is connected to the Internet using broadband technology they are sharing the connection infrastructure with other users.

The term contention is simply a ratio used to measure the extent of this sharing. The typical contention ratio for DSL services is between 20:1. For example on a package with a contention of 50:1, up to 50 other Broadband users may share the equipment and bandwidth in the exchange.

An analogy would be driving a car in peak (rush-hour) and off-peak traffic. During the rush hour you contend the road with everybody else and it may take you longer to get to your destination than during off-peak. This industry-wide method is used by all broadband providers.

Network operators have the ability to provide varying contention ratios since they own and operate our their network, and upgrading capacity on a sector to maintain a guaranteed contention ratio is relatively simple which enables the provider to guarantee its services levels.