Thami Mtshali CEO of telecommunications company Wireless Business Solutions had a radio licence and spectrum, and together with Mike Brown, the two men came up with the dazzlingly simple idea of using microwave technology to provide high-through put connectivity to corporates.
The second, and equally important part of the Broadlink recipe was the concept of service. Telecommunications as an industry has never been particularly service-oriented. Almost universally, networks were originally created and run by governments, and like all government services, a take it or leave it’ mentality was prevalent. Even after those networks were privatised, it remains a heavily regulated industry and so, perhaps understandably, the focus has typically been more on the minutiae of licences and the baroque intricacies of network technology and architecture. (One small example of how complex – or convoluted – it can be: in South Africa, it’s cheaper to buy international internet access than local. It’s the high-tech version of Irish butter selling for less than the local product.)
“Being from a sales and marketing background, I wanted this to be a service business, not a telecoms business,” Brown confirms.
Writer: James van den Heever
Photos: Suzanne Gell