FibreCo kicks-off R5bn network project

FibreCo has kicked-off the construction phase of its R5 billion long-distance fibre optic network.

Construction has commenced on a 2000 km link between Johannesburg and Cape Town, to be connected through Bloemfontein, East London and Port Elizabeth, providing access to a wide range of rural and smaller urban areas along the route.

The company – a joint venture between Cell C, Convergence Partners and Internet Solutions - will invest up to R5 billion in infrastructure over the next five years, with a vision of ultimately building a network of over 12 000 km.

“This is a momentous day for FibreCo. The open-access network we are developing will help to unblock one of the last major bottlenecks in South Africa’s broadband connectivity, boosting capacity between our population centres inland and the undersea cable landing stations on the East and West coast. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but are confident that we have the resources and partnerships to succeed,” says Arif Hussain, CEO of FibreCo.

The project is expected to create close to 2,300 jobs directly and indirectly across the country. An estimated 70-80% of the network construction relates to civil works, to be carried out by technology partner, ZTE, in collaboration with local engineering firms and subcontractors.

According to the company, at least 200 fibre optic technicians will also be trained and certified under the internationally recognised Fibre Optic Association, who will be located locally along the route for operation and maintenance of the network.

The fibre cable will be laid in underground ducts through a sophisticated linear construction process. Once installed, each individual fibre pair will be capable of transmitting over 1,600 Gigabytes per second of data. Through FibreCo’s open-access model other broadband network operators will be able to directly access and light up their own dedicated fibre optic infrastructure.

“FibreCo has heeded Government’s call for the private sector to be part of a ‘massive infrastructure development drive’ to boost economic growth and create job opportunities. The FibreCo network will not only contribute toward this objective, but it will also bring tangible broadband accessibility to poorly connected rural areas,” said Andile Ngcaba, chairman of FibreCo.

FibreCo expects to start offering services on selected routes from early 2013, with the link between Johannesburg and Cape Town anticipated to be operational in the latter half of 2013.

“This project is essential to the advancement of South Africa’s IP-based technological capabilities. By providing an alternative national transmission network we are liberalising the market and will open up new opportunities for local businesses and service providers alike. A high speed fibre network of this nature will enable and accelerate the adoption of important IP-based communication, collaboration and cloud technologies, which will help to drive both business and economic growth in the country,” said Prenesh Padayachee, Chief Technology Officer at Internet Solutions.

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