For most SMEs, access to reliable Internet is of utmost importance. FARHAD SULEMAN, CEO of Simpli Connect, explains why microwave wireless access is a good alternative to fibre for small companies.

Simple and reliable is certainly the way most SME owners would like to describe their internet access, and with wireless, that is exactly what you get. With only basic hardware required (an antenna on your property and a router), you can be connected instantly.

Microwave wireless access offers similar speeds to fibre, but it does not require the use of cables. This means there is no danger of cable theft, it is quicker to install and causes less disruption to clients because there is no need to dig up roads and driveways. As long as technicians can get LOS (line of sight) to the nearest base station – you can be connected in a matter of hours. Also, the current FTTH (Fibre to the Home) and FTTB (Fibre to the Business) offerings are heavily contended 20 to 1 (FTTH) and 10 to 1 (FTTB).   The contention ratio refers to the number of users sharing the same data capacity – the lower the contention ratio, the lower the number of users and thus the higher the quality of service. Unlike fibre most wireless services are uncontended so if you pay for a 50mbps line, you are guaranteed 50mbps line speed at all times.  Additionally, wireless services are unshaped, which means that all internet traffic enjoys the same priority even if the network is busy. Best of all, many wireless services are uncapped so you are always in control of your monthly internet spend. It is also easy to add-on services like VoIP (think WhatsApp Calls) and other Cloud and hosting solutions like Microsoft Teams and Office365.

Another benefit for SMEs is that the cost of hardware has come down over the past few years. Wireless services require connectivity to a high site or base station and the cost of this equipment, including the customer premises equipment, has reduced drastically making it much more affordable than a few years ago. Additionally, there are no third-party infrastructure providers between the customer and the connectivity service provider. In the case of fibre, there are often multiple providers which brings added complexity.

Wireless internet is quick to install and is an affordable and quality service which offers speeds up to 200Mbps. With various package options available, any SME will be able to find a service that suits their needs and budget. It is important to note that technology can be a catalyst and an enabler to SMEs, however, in many instances the wrong technology, connectivity or solution is chosen by a small business owner because they aren’t always up to speed with the latest technologies as a result of spending most of their time actually running their day-to-day businesses. This can lead to expensive mistakes which become even more costly if the business owner wishes to cancel the original agreement as they will incur cancellation penalties. That is why it is so important to choose the right partner who will bring together solutions from different telecommunications companies or fixed network operators to provide the best solution for your small business for the short, medium and long term.

While wireless internet is a great access medium for any size business, businesses who will benefit the most from wireless internet include those who have a fixed location and office-based staff. Wireless is the ideal solution for SME’s who need to connect up to 50 users or devices at a time, those who require static IP Addresses, symmetrical upload and download speeds and low contention ratios. SMEs whose businesses depend on having high quality internet like web developers, digital marketing agencies and e-commerce stores will realise the greatest benefit from this high availability solution. SME’s who run more ‘mobile’ businesses such as pop-up stores or markets will benefit more from access solutions like LTE. In a nutshell, for SMEs who need a solution that is professionally installed but quick to set up and with minimal downtime, wireless internet is the answer. It is also great for those small business owners who are currently being switched off from ADSL. For these businesses wireless internet is the worry-free replacement to ADSL with no concerns about copper cable theft or poor line speeds based on the time of day or distance from the nearest Telkom ADSL exchange.

So, whether you are a small business with a hair salon wanting to provide free Wi-Fi for your customers or a bigger business with 35 branches – wireless connectivity could be the solution you need with wide coverage, short installation times and the biggest cost savings.