Interview with ip.access – 4G deployed in Zambia

  • Headquartered in the UK, ip.access has deployed more than two million 2G, 3G, and 4G small cells across hundreds of commercial and private networks worldwide.
  • ip.access is one of few major competitors currently working in the global small cell 5G network market.
  • ip.access also uses satellite backhaul to provide coverage to commercial aeroplanes, ships, and users in remote rural areas, including Sub-Saharan Africa.


About ip.access


We have been providing cellular equipment, cellular small cells, since 2002. The company lived and breathed in small cells. We delivered the full end to end solution: the small access points, the gateway, the management system etc.

The company then moved into 3G residential small cells; our biggest customer win was At&T. We’ve still got a very strong mobile operator base. However, over the years there has been a bit of a shift in the way mobile operators are purchasing from vendors like us. I think it’s fair to say that operators have a preference of having the big vendors supply small cells, such as Erikson and Nokia. Struggling to succeed in this market, we decided to diversify our equipment to different verticals. Over the years, we built a very strong customer base selling private network solutions.

We are now taking advantage of private network opportunities in the US. Soon, we will be announcing deployment in a big shopping mall with a point-of-sale use case. We have also diversified into network security and defence.  


What makes ip.access unique?


We are the leaders in aviation. We sell to Panasonic Avionics and SITAONAIR. The likelihood is that if you’re on an aircraft and they tell you that you can use your phone for cellular connectivity, it’s using our technology.

And, our recent announcement we had about our rural and remote work. We are working with Africa Mobile Networks (AMN), supplying cellular elements for the deployment of 4G, 3G and 2G across sub-Saharan Africa, including 4G deployment in Zambia. The success of the large-scale project with AMN has been praised for breaking social divides and connecting the unconnected.


Africa mobile network working with ip.access to connect Zambia


What’s new in the wireless network industry?


Enterprises have been looking for improvements in wireless networks for years, and the need is becoming more urgent. In the latter part of 2019 we ran market research with Nemertes to better understand how the end-user is currently using private networks, what their pain points are and what their plans for the future are. The study reached 302 companies and revealed that 86% of companies have already deployed a private Wi-Fi network (no surprise here). A full 25% of companies with an existing Wi-Fi network have concrete plans to begin replacing their primary network during 2019. 41% of these (roughly 10% of the overall enterprise market) are favouring a move to 4G and OnGo during 2020. 



What are your plans for growth?


We are launching two products which we will be selling directly through an ODM (original design manufacturer). This will signify a shift in business model from hardware box shifter to software licensor, enabling those high volume orders to be delivered at a lower price point and with much shorter production lead times. Our objective here is to break down barriers to the delivery of our solution and keep doing what we do best.

Emerging markets in Asia, Africa and South America have been recognised as distinct from US, European and other developed markets for the rapid emergence of LTE, but with a continuing requirement for 3G and GSM (Global System for Mobile). As other equipment manufacturers retire their radio products, ip.access finds itself one of few ready to serve this rapidly expanding market in all of its segments. We provide solutions for the urban middle class as well as the rural settlements where voice and video are vital factors in keeping communities connected.