Joburg plans R500m broadband network

The City of Johannesburg plans a R500 million public-private partnership for the development of the Joburg Broadband Network Project, aimed at bringing down the city’s telecommunications costs.

The project will also improve service delivery in diverse areas ranging from traffic control to library services.

Today the city will issue a request for information to interested firms that are in possession of or have access to a value-added network service licence, to tender for the project.

The city owns telecommunications infrastructure, including cables, and has a private telephone network licence.

Johannesburg plans to offer internet bandwidth at a lower cost to the city’s government departments, businesses and schools, and to cater for the anticipated demand for telecoms expected during the 2010 soccer World Cup.

Douglas Cohen, a project consultant at the department of economic development for the city, said Johannesburg would invest about R100 million and the private sector might be asked to finance the remaining R400 million.

He said the plan was to establish a new entity that would house the infrastructure and sell wholesale bandwidth to companies and internet service providers.

Jabulani Zimu, in the office of the city’s chief information officer, said: "The purpose of the broadband project is primarily to build a strong information technology infrastructure for the city and, secondly, to bring information and communications technology (ICT) closer to citizens at a cost effective price by selling off spare capacity".

The city expects to appoint the successful bidder for the project before year end.

The City of Johannesburg, along with Tshwane Metro, the City of Cape Town, Knysna and the Ethekwini Municipality, planned to ditch Telkom to roll out out their own wireless infrastructure.

Cities around the world were increasing the availability and accessibility of telecoms to improve service delivery, education and economic development, said Cohen.

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Joburg plans R500m broadband network