CENTURION, Gauteng – 11 October 2012 – Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) today celebrated its five year birthday at the annual myBroadband Conference held at Vodaworld in Midrand. As a partner of the event, DFA made the myBroadband Conference a more memorable occasion by sponsoring the post event beverages.
The company’s expenditure plan is in excess of R3.5-billion and it has already trenched more than 6 700 kilometres of optic fibre across South Africa. Over the past five years, DFA has created in excess of 8 000 jobs and boasts approximately 260 permanent staff at its offices countrywide.
DFA CEO Gustav Smit also shared his thoughts on national fibre networks and what should be done to make Fibre to the Home (FTTH) a reality in South Africa.
He says the network is an independent, operator neutral network that all companies with appropriate telecommunications licences can share without fear or favour. “DFA’s network is the fastest-growing open-access optical fibre infrastructure in the country.”
“We are the carrier of carriers, providing infrastructure to three of the top four cellular providers, to seven of the top eight Internet services providers, to one of the two fixed-line operators, to the country’s largest media conglomerates, to educational institutions, to open-access data centres, and to major metro municipalities.”
“The network is used by companies such as cellular network operators Cell C, Vodacom, MTN and landline network operator Telkom as well as ISPs like IS and MWeb, media companies and high Internet usage corporations,” he explains.
“Furthermore, we have 40 clients at this stage and this includes some Government customers. For example, state-owned Broadband Infraco has its own links between cities but makes use of our network to link its customers within the metropolitan areas.”
DFA is also leasing optical fibre to large corporations such as banks where these companies have obtained their own telecommunications licences. At the same time, DFA is not actively selling its services outside of the telecommunications industry as it does not wish to compete with its own clients.
DFA’s footprint extends nationally and links with the SEACOM, EASSy, SAFE and the SAT3 cables at Mtunzini in KwaZulu Natal and links to the WACS cable at Yzerfontein and the SAT 3 cable at Melkbosstrand in the Western Cape.
The deployment of metro and long haul open access ducting, optimised for fibre network deployment, will enable users of communications capacity to enjoy logical separation and ownership of communications capacity, while sharing the same physical right of way and access routes with other carriers.
“We make a point of measuring our progress in terms of trenches as we can easily install new fibre once we have a trench on the route and we are not in the business of putting up unsightly, inefficient overhead cables on old telephone poles,” he adds.
Smit says over the past five years, DFA has not had to build any fibre routes on a speculative basis and trenches have only been dug as customers have signed leases. “We still have a large order book and that will keep us busy. We are extending our reach into secondary cities and some of the smaller towns so that businesses in more remote communities have access to high speed data channels.”
“We will be taking on some risk as we work to get fibre to every business and many homes, we anticipate 20% take-up over the next four years,” Smit says.
“South Africans simply don’t know what 20Mbps or 100Mbps to the home means. An opportunity needs to be created for users to test drive serious broadband and ISPs need to play a leading role in mobilising communities.”
Looking to the future, Smit stresses that on a corporate level the company has no plans to list. “Companies usually list to raise capital to fund expansion and while our expansion cannot be funded out of cash flows, our major shareholders, Remgro and NewGX Capital, have deep pockets and it is happy to continue making capital available.”
DFA is the premier wholesale, open-access fibre-infrastructure and -connectivity provider in South Africa. We finance, build, install, manage, and maintain a world-class fibre network to transmit metro and long-haul telecommunications traffic. We started rolling out our fibre network in 2007, and to date, we have deployed over 13,000 km of ducting infrastructure in major metros, secondary cities, and smaller towns. Our network runs with an industry-leading uptime of 99.98%. We lease our secure transmission and backbone fibre infrastructure and provide associated connectivity services to telecommunications operators, Internet service providers, media conglomerates, tertiary education institutions, municipalities, government organizations, and other businesses, large and small, on equal terms. DFA is a Level 3 B-BBEE Contributor on the ICT Sector Codes.