CENTURION, Gauteng – 10 January 2013 – Even though more than 7 000 kilometres of optic fibre has already been trenched across South Africa and with an expenditure plan in excess of R3.5 billion, high-speed fibre networks remain a pipe dream for most. The reality is, consumers will have to activate the demand if they want high-speed fibre networks to their businesses and homes.
To get broadband to all South Africans, there is an urgent need to get Government agencies to work together to facilitate the rapid deployment of infrastructure. This is according to Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), a local open access dark fibre infrastructure provider.
The Company’s CEO Gustav Smit believes the lack of “fibre tails” into buildings is now the biggest bottleneck to delivering next-generation broadband speeds to South African consumers.
Smit estimates that it will cost nearly R30-billion to take high-speed fibre-optic broadband infrastructure into 1,5-million homes. “There is no proper business case for fibre to the home on a mass scale yet, only into high economic value areas.”
“If consumers don’t ask service providers for fibre, nothing will happen” he says. “The masses need to apply, business and residential communities, because fibre is too expensive to provide individual customers in remote areas. If we don’t ask for services in numbers, it will never happen,” he explains.
He says DFA’s network is an independent, operator neutral network that all companies with appropriate telecommunications licences can share without fear or favour. “There are some companies starting to build small last-mile rings but it is based on a business case. This means they will start in the main economic hubs before they go into the towns.”
DFA is the carrier of carriers, providing the fastest-growing open-access optical fibre infrastructure in the country. It provides 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.
“Our 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.
“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.”
“South Africans simply don’t know what 20Mbit/s or 100Mbit/s 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. We will be taking on some risk as we work to get fibre to every business and many homes and we anticipate 20% take-up over the next four years,” Smit concludes.
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.