Cybersmart CEO Laurie Fialkov said a streamlined way leave application process and banning exclusivity on rolling out fibre networks in neighborhoods can help improve fixed broadband access in South Africa.
Cybersmart has been a pioneer in rolling out fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-business networks across South Africa, with a strong presence in the Western Cape, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal.
Asked what can be done to improve fixed broadband, specifically FTTH and FTTB, services in the country, Fialkov said making it easier to get way leave permissions is needed.
“The way leave process and the administrative burden required in order to get fibre in the ground is quite burdensome,” he said.
“If the way leave application and approval process can be streamlined, I think it will make it much easier to roll out fibre services.”
Fialkov further questioned the current situation where a landlord, or even a neighbourhood, grants a single fibre provider exclusivity to roll out fibre.
He said the legality of these exclusivity agreements should be challenged in court.
Despite these challenges, Fialkov said South Africa has made “massive leaps in catching up with the rest of the world”.
Asked what he thinks Telkom should do to improve ADSL, Fialkov joked: “There is nothing I would like them to do. Anything they do makes our fibre products less appealing.”
The future of ISPs in South Africa
With a rapidly-changing telecommunications market, it is not clear where new growth areas for Internet service providers lie.
Fialkov said he thinks the next step for ISPs is bundling services and offering converged services.
“The days where you can just provide a single service – like ADSL, mobile, hosting, fibre, or VoIP – is over,” he said.
He also thinks expanding the availability of fixed-line broadband access to areas where it is currently unavailable can be a big growth area.
“It is difficult, but all growth areas originally appear difficult.”