Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) Pilot
As a condition of Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) telecommunications licence, service providers who offer this are required to offer wireless internet connectivity to a number of schools throughout South Africa. They have not had much success in getting this off the ground and, in an attempt to honour their commitment, they have approached the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to offer this to a number of schools in the WCED. True to the operational framework within which Khanya operates, it once again suggested that we first pilot their solution before unleashing it on schools.
Thus three schools have been selected in which to pilot the iBurst technology, iBurst being the product name of the service. The stationary equipment will be piloted in these schools while mobile equipment will be used by a number of different people at different sites in the Cape Town Area (EMDC Central). Also, this is one company that is applying the much-debated e-rate. The e-rate is a proposal by the Department of Communication that Telecoms companies offer services to schools at 50%.
Zimasa Primary in Langa has been selected because of their record of excellent co-operation and because they will soon have two laboratories running which will allow Khanya to test capacity on the Wireless link. Langa High School is the second school. As a Learning Support Programme (LSP) school in the EMDC Central, they always welcome any assistance from the WCED. Finally, Sithembile Matiso in Gugulethu was selected, as they are very reliable to work with from an administrative point of view.
The pilot needs to assess the technical make-up of this wireless connectivity solution, what speed of traffic could we rely upon, at what point would the pipeline be saturated. All schools are reliant on connectivity and instead of waiting for an all-encompassing telecoms solution that could address this need more affordably, Khanya is of the opinion that we should use what is available NOW.
Pilot Schools receive the wireless modem card/ equipment at no cost and the service is pre-paid for six months. The amount payable (after the pilot period) is fixed and therefore more manageable from a budgetary perspective. Connectivity is critical in expanding the resource base and access to information to learners, educators and the broader school community.