What South Africa’s fibre networks look like

Telkom’s interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2019 showed a big decline in its fixed-broadband subscribers.

While the decline is mostly a result of losing copper-based ADSL and VDSL lines, the company’s fibre growth has slowed.

Instead of doubling down on its fibre network investment to remain competitive, Telkom has cut its capital expenditure on its fibre network by 36.3% over the last year.

Many people saw this as Telkom admitting defeat in the fibre market, but Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko said the company is not losing the fibre war.

Speaking to The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield, Maseko said: “South Africa has 180,000km of fibre – we own 160,000km of that”.

South Africa’s fibre networks

While the statistics quoted by Maseko are dubious, it raises a good question – how much fibre does South Africa really have and what do these networks look like?

The table below provides an overview of the biggest fibre networks in South Africa.

It should be noted that only prominent networks who provided MyBroadband with statistics are listed below.

Fibre Networks in South Africa
Network Fibre Network
Telkom 164,000km
Vodacom 33,000km
Liquid Telecom SA 21,000km
MTN 21,000km
Broadband Infraco 15,000km
DFA 13,000km
Vumatel 8,000km
Seacom/FibreCo 4,000km
MetroFibre Networx 1,500km

Telkom – 164,000km

Telkom has the largest fibre network in South Africa, with 163,800 kilometres of fibre deployed in the country.

Telkom fibre map 2012

Liquid Telecom – 21,000km

Liquid Telecom South Africa, which is part of the leading pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, has 21,000km of fibre in South Africa.

“We recently announced the replacement of our Core network in South Africa which boasts of a 99.999% uptime. This was in response to the customer demand for extra bandwidth and need for improved reliability,” said Liquid Telecom South Africa CEO Reshaad Sha.

MTN – 21,000km

MTN SA is one of the key providers of fibre, having made substantial investments not only in expanding its network but also in building its own transmission capabilities.

MTN has over 21,000km of access and national long-distance fibre that connects major cities across the country.

“This figure will increase as we are continuously deploying thousands of kilometers of fibre on an annual basis,” MTN said.

MTN added that it is important to note that other operators count their kilometres in terms of cables in the ground, whereas MTN counts trenched routes and not cable distances.

Broadband Infraco

Broadband Infraco’s fibre network covers all nine provinces and most major cities and towns.

Dark Fibre Africa

Dark Fibre Africa has around 13,000km of fibre in the ground.

It is owned by Community Investment Ventures Holdings, a venture holding firm owned by a group of investors – Remgro, New GX Capital Holdings, Chlanich, Community Investment Holdings, and Consolidated Capital Investments.

DFA fibre map

Seacom/FibreCo – 4,000km

Seacom told MyBroadband that it was unable to comment on exactly how many kilometres of fibre it has in South Africa.

However, the map below provides an overview of the Seacom network in the country.

Now read: Telkom ADSL and fibre shocker

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What South Africa’s fibre networks look like