02 Aug South Africa: Vast Networks is up for sale – report
South Africa’s Vast Networks is for sale, reports Mybroadband citing industry sources. The company was established in 2015 as a joint venture between Dimension Data (51%) and Naspers (49%). The company is an open-access Wi-Fi network infrastructure provider, delivering carrier-grade Wi-Fi in Southern Africa.
Market watchers noted that although an open-access Wi-Fi network may not be perceived as very valuable, the company’s often-exclusive agreements with malls and businesses are a good asset. Mobile operators are looking at ways to improve their network capacity and performance, and LTE in unlicenced spectrum (LTE-U) is one possible solution. LTE-U makes use of unlicensed spectrum, such as the 5GHz band, which lets operators improve data performance without requiring a user to log in to a separate Wi-Fi network. A mobile operator using LTE-U needs multiple microcells (similar to Wi-Fi hotspots) using unlicensed spectrum to offload traffic from its sites which use licensed spectrum. In South Africa, where mobile operators are starved of spectrum, an LTE-U network can be highly valuable However, without the rights to roll out microcells in areas like shopping malls, establishing an LTE-U network will be challenging.