The Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA), established in 2006, is a non-profit industry representative body acting as a collective voice for over 180 independent wireless operators in South Africa. WAPA’s primary objective is to ensure the sustainability of the wireless access services market by facilitating self-regulation. WAPA is positioned to be an interface between the government regulator (ICASA), network operators, service providers and consumers.
The Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) is growing in numbers as an ever-wider circle of stakeholders join its membership ranks. WAPA currently has 185 members, an increase from 143 at this time last year, representing 28% year over year growth.
One of WAPA’s aims is to enable partnerships between members by providing context, in the form of industry best practices and resources, along with opportunities for business partnerships, such as Wi-Fi training webinars in collaboration with the Wireless Broadband Alliance. While WAPA has traditionally comprised largely wireless ISPs (WISPs), its mandate is to ensure the sustainability of the wireless industry as a whole by providing regulatory and business support to all entities playing in this space.
WAPA views the recent addition of several new high-profile members to its ranks as indicative of the widening set of organisations that see value in collaborating under the WAPA banner. In 2014, so far, WAPA has welcomed the following organisations:
· American Tower Corporation (ATC)
· Ruckus Wireless
Both ATC and Neotel have a national presence, and are leaders in their respective areas of the telecommunications industry. ATC South Africa is the largest independent owner and operator of shared wireless infrastructure in South Africa.
Neotel is South Africa’s first converged communications network operator, offering services that bring together voice, data and internet, delivered via optical fibre or wireless access. In 2010, Neotel approached WAPA to assist with their Community Service Obligations, following which a POC was conducted with a trial network to determine the potential of WAPA members to provide a last-mile solution.
Orange is a mass-market operator in 32 countries around the world. As of 2013, Orange has launched several activities in South Africa, including a content website, an online store, an international top-up website, etc.”
Ruckus Wireless, listed on the NYSE as RKUS, is a global supplier of advanced wireless systems for the rapidly expanding mobile Internet infrastructure market.
WAPA Chairperson Mohammad Patel comments, “WAPA is pleased to welcome organisations with the national scope and reach of ATC and Neotel, as well as internationally-recognised brands like Orange and Ruckus Wireless. We are excited to see the new business relationships which will result from partnerships between the larger and smaller companies brought together under the WAPA portfolio.”
For larger telecommunications operators and vendors, WAPA acts as a trusted body that enables them to communicate their product and service offerings quickly and easily to a large target audience. For smaller operators, WAPA provides networking opportunities and delivers the technical, product, and regulatory context to enable these relationships to bear fruit both sides.