Ruckus Wireless, a US-based global WiFi firm, is benefitting from the growth of WiFi services in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
The New York Stock Exchange-listed firm is beefing up its presence in the country to service its growing partners
The Silicon Valley-headquartered company, which manufactures and markets WiFi products, believes the lack of ICT infrastructure on the continent offers more growth.
The provisioning of free WiFi services is becoming a continent-wide trend. The City of Tshwane, which is in partnership with Project Isizwe, is already deploying free WiFi. The City of Cape Town is also providing WiFi to open internet access to the masses and the City of Johannesburg is in the process of building its own WiFi network.
Other African cities are also deploying public-free WiFi and governments are looking for solutions.
To benefit from this growth, Ruckus Wireless has set up an office in Midrand to be used as a headquarters to support
its partners and customers in the Sub- Saharan region.
Michael Fletcher, sales director for Ruckus Wireless, Sub-Saharan Africa, says: “As [the region is] an emerging market, Ruckus Wireless saw this as an opportunity to provide viable wireless technology solutions and as an opportunity to get closer to our customers.”
The company provides smart indoor and outdoor WiFi products designed to for speed, increased capacity and reliability.
“We felt that the most effective way to build a local base in a market that we were operating in would be to have in-country presence. This is also our way of investing in the region.”
The company’s technology addresses WiFi capacity and coverage challenges caused by the ever-increasing amount
of traffic on wireless networks due to accelerated adoption of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
In many other African countries, especially Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, there is potential for the development of public WiFi infrastructure, and it would make sense for Ruckus Wireless to expand its services into some of those
Asked to comment on whether the US-based firm believes that there are enough growth opportunities for its WiFi products in the rest of Africa,
Fletcher said: “Africa is considered an emerging market and the lack of ICT infrastructure allows room for the wireless landscape to service the shortfalls to ensure that consumers receive seamless network connectivity.
“We definitely see massive room for growth for the continent and we hope that our services offerings that cater to the African continent will assist in bridging the gap that is still being experienced locally when compared to international counterparts.”
Fletcher wouldn’t be drawn into commenting about how much capital the firm is planning to invest in SA.
“We don’t view monetary investments as the only investment option. In our line of business we also focus on training our partners to be more self-sufficient.
“We also invest in labs for experimenting interesting WiFi scenarios. Sometimes our customers want to know if certain projects would work and we open our lab for them to evaluate the success of such scenarios,” he explains.
Asked to comment on how the company will comply with BBBEE regulations, Fletcher says: “As an American WiFi equipment manufacturer we don’t personally trade in SA – this is done through our partners who have the necessary documentation to fulfil such needs.”
US firms such as Microsoft, for example, have opted to invest in local business because they cannot sell a stake in their South African units for regulatory and other reasons.
Ruckus Wireless is also not planning to set up a manufacturing plant in SA.
Fletcher says: “As we continue to grow our footprint and customer base in Africa, it can lead to such conversations
in the future, but currently this is not part of our strategy.”