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IConnect Goes The Extra Mile

Multibillion-rand investments made by fixed-line, GSM and other network operators in designing, building and maintaining their core infrastructure has dramatically increased the reliability, quality and redundancy of carrier systems that support the rapid convergence of voice and data in the new era of “cloud computing”, says Heinrich Heeson, Chief Technology Officer of iConnect, a fully licensed and independent telecommunications service provider.

“What is not guaranteed is the quality of service and redundancy that relies on the ‘last mile’ – the infrastructure that connects businesses and individual users to backbone or backhaul networks and the cloud. “There are many reasons why the so-called ‘last mile’ poses a threat to the reliability, quality and performance of telecommunications and computing solutions, such as VOIP and Internet connectivity for data and e-mail. “For historical reasons and to an overwhelming degree, the national carrier has dominated the ‘last mile’, but has failed to invest in or properly maintain this vital link. The high incidence of cable theft compounds the problem. This situation is in the process of being addressed at both a technical and legislative level, but is still a long way from being totally resolved. “At a technical level, new developments such as long-term evolution (LTE) technologies currently being tested in South Africa may solve the last mile problem. The unbundling of the ‘local loop’, the subject of a protracted legislative procedure being undertaken by ICASA, will also eventually help to alleviate this problem,” he says. “Another reason for the current parlous state of the ‘last-mile’ is that service providers cannot necessarily justify the investments required to provide customers with last mile infrastructure if the customer is free to switch to another provider. To a degree, this situation is being addressed by the emergence of companies specialising in the installation of infrastructure aimed at providing cost-effective and fast access to metropolitan fibre networks to connect business, office blocks and communities to backhaul networks,” says Heeson. “However, this approach is costly and will take a relatively long time to build critical mass,” he says. Heeson says a number of options are deployed to overcome last mile challenges. “These include ADSL, wireless, diginet, fibre and microwave links that are chosen for their suitability in a particular area. “However, these can be costly and may not always provide an ideal solution. iConnect, based on extensive technical research and testing, deploys as standard in all our customer installations a technology called ViBE. This solution helps to overcome last mile challenges by greatly enhancing quality of service, redundancy and call concurrency options. “The three major benefits of ViBE are the ability to run voice and data over the same line; the ability to increase call concurrency by stripping out non-essential data from packet headers; and, when run over two lines, the ability to route the same packets over both lines. “iConnect is thus able to provide a very cost-effective last mile-redundant solution,” he says.


By Heinrich Heeson, Chief Technology Officer of iConnect.



iConnect is a licensed* new-age telecommunications company providing voice and integrated data and converged solutions and services to the corporate and SME markets based on a highly personalised, single-point-of-contact that delivers measurable savings and business value. * Individual Electronic Communications Network Services Licence 0300/iECNS/May09 and Individual Electronic Communications Services Licence 0300/iECS/May09.

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