Fibre is potentially the most critical component of all telecommunications infrastructure in South Africa, and without further deployment the country will not be able to enter the 5G race.
This is according to the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who was speaking at the FTTX Conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday 8 October.
“According to the FTTX Council, as at the end of June 2019, about 1.5 million end points have been passed, with a total of over 600,000 connections, comprising of over 496,000 homes that are connected and billed, and over 114,000 business premises,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
“These are truly impressive numbers; however, we are also alive to the fact that we are still only scratching the tip of the iceberg.”
“I have engaged with operators who are in agreement that the amount of fibre that we currently have in place is not nearly adequate to serve the future needs of the telecommunications industry.”
Ndabeni-Abrahams said that despite significant investment into the industry, to achieve the government’s planned vision for 5G, at least six to eight times as much fibre as is currently installed must be deployed.
In a bid to improve fibre rollout, Ndabeni-Abrahams and a number of sector CEOs signed a pact to roll out fibre in rural communities and connect communities to the internet grid.
“We envisage that sector collaboration will significantly reduce the time to deploy broadband infrastructure and services while minimising duplication of infrastructure,” she said.
“We also believe that the industry will play an integral role in assisting government to realise its policy aspiration of increasing broadband speed from 10Mbps to 100Mbps.”