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Intel backs wireless Africa plan

Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, believes that Africa needs to embrace wireless broadband since it is "cheaper, easier and more efficient to communicate wirelessly." Less than 1% of Africans have access to broadband and only 4% use the net. The continent's geography and political barriers have made it difficult to roll out wired broadband. Also, there is a shortage of fibre cable links between African countries and very few states have extensive copper wire networks for ADSL broadband.

The International Telecommunications Union has predicted that the Intel-backed Wimax system could become the dominant mobile standard in Africa. Wimax is a long range, low power wireless broadband system which can be used to connect PCs and laptops, and in the future mobile phones, to a broadband network. According to the ITU, Wimax networks are currently being employed in nine countries in Africa. Mr Barrett, who is in Africa as part of the Intel World Ahead programme, said: "In every African country, except some of the more established economies, cell phones vastly outnumber fixed line phones. You always have to put the backhaul channels in - which is why you need an overlaid fibre network. Once you have that, forget about wires and twisted copper and go directly to broadband wireless technologies like WiMax."

News source: BBC News

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