In January this year BWired – the company tasked with ‘connecting’ the City of Johannesburg – was officially launched.
BWired was formed after Ericsson South Africa was chosen to partner with the city in its billion rand Joburg Broadband Network Project (JBNP) in February 2009, and is set to provide voice and data communications throughout the city.
At the time it was announced that the JBNP will begin with the laying of 900 kilometres of fibre optic cable in Johannesburg. This roll-out is expected to take about three years to complete.
The primary focus of the JBNP is on connectivity in rural areas, with the project beginning in Orange Farm, in the south of Joburg.
MyBroadband caught up with Rowen Chetty, business development manager for vertical markets at Ericsson South Africa, to establish what has been achieved since the launch in January.
According to Chetty Ericsson/JBNP started rolling out its open access fibre network which will provide a 10 Gbps backbone for the city of Joburg and its partners, with the first PoPs in Martindale, Soweto and Randburg. The Martindale-Soweto route is set to be finished within the next 3 to 4 months.
This fibre network will initially be used by the City of Joburg for its communications needs, but after completion private companies will gain access to the network. According to Chetty they have already received requests from four prominent companies to use this network.
As previously stated the network will mainly be used to connect underserved areas and municipal buildings, and BWired will be tasked to make this a reality.
According to Chetty schools and clinics in Johannesburg will start to be connected within the next 12 to 14 months. This will most likely be done via wireless networks using the established fibre network for backhaul purposes.
Chetty pointed out that the JBNP will also provide internet connectivity, and has established agreements with SEACOM and other partners to ensure competitive prices.
While providing affordable broadband access to citizens is not the immediate focus of the JBNP, Chetty said that it is anticipated that commercial ISPs will start to resell BWired services or build their own wireless networks to serve Joburg residents.
The commercial ISPs are likely to benefit from the JBNP’s fibre backbone and agreements with SEACOM and other players to provide affordable Internet connectivity.
Joburg broadband network project << discussion