FibreCo gets going on R5bn network

The company 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.

Cable FibreCo gets going on R5bn network

Construction has commenced on a 2,000 km link between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

FibreCo Telecommunications (FibreCo) recently broke-ground to start the construction phase of its much anticipated long-distance fibre optic network in Bloemfontein.

The company says it 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.

Construction has commenced on a 2,000 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 project is expected to create close to 2300 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 Corporation (ZTE), in collaboration with local engineering firms and subcontractors. 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.

FibreCo is a joint venture between Cell C, Convergence Partners and Internet Solutions, and has signed capacity purchase agreements with British Telecom (BT), Cell C and Internet Solutions, as it first three clients.

The company says the technological advantage of the network lies in the fibre optic cable comprising several insulated, flexible and transparent fibre optic glass strands no thicker than a human hair.  

“This fibre cable will be laid in underground ducts through a sophisticated linear construction process. Once installed, the cable will offer unrivalled connectivity and stability, with each individual fibre pair being capable of transmitting over 1,600 Gigabytes per second of data,” the company said in a statement.

Through FibreCo’s open-access model other broadband network operators will be able to directly acce

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ss and light up their own dedicated fibre optic infrastructure. FibreCo’s network will accelerate the delivery of affordable, reliable and fast Internet access to South African citizens and enterprises, and contribute to making Government’s objective to deliver 100% broadband penetration by 2020, a reality.

“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 Telecommunications.

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, Chief Executive Officer of FibreCo Telecommunications.

“The gap in access to broadband connectivity in South Africa’s rural and urban areas exists mainly because of a lack of cost-effective broadband transmission infrastructure. FibreCo’s broadband infrastructure development is critical to Governments wider ICT agenda of bringing down the cost of broadband access and increasing broadband penetration across South Africa by 2020,” commented Alan Knott-Craig, CEO of Cell C.

“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.

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.

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