The final fibre frontier in South Africa

Over the last decade, South Africa has seen excellent developments in international, long haul, and metro fibre networks, and it is now time to focus on last-mile fibre rollouts.

This is the view of Octotel executive director Rob Gilmour, who spoke to MyBroadband about South Africa’s fibre network developments.

Gilmour explained that fibre networks can be broken into four categories:

  • International fibre in the form of undersea cables, where South Africa is now well covered through multiple submarine cable systems.
  • Long-haul national fibre which connects South African towns and cities. The country has seen strong growth in this area and bandwidth pricing between major centres have fallen significantly in recent years.
  • In-metro fibre in the form or rings within cities and towns which supports fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-business deployments.
  • Last-mile FTTH and FTTB fibre where fibre is rolled out in neighbourhoods to connect houses and buildings to fibre and provide high-speed connectivity.

According to Gilmour, South African telecommunications companies need to focus on solving the last-mile problem as international, long haul, and metro fibre networks are in place.

“The final frontier is to bring fibre connections into as many homes as possible to be effective in transforming our legacy of being a poorly connected country with relatively slow internet speeds,” said Gilmour.

The fibre war

Telkom may have started off with the high ground in the South African fibre war, but operators like Vumatel and Octotel delivered fast, efficient roll-outs which soon saw them competing with Openserve.

This has resulted in Telkom rapidly losing fibre-to-the-home market share to operators like Vumatel and Octotel. However, Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko denies that they are losing the fibre war.

The Telkom CEO said they are currently focusing their investments on fibre-to-the-base-station, fibre-to-the-business, and to some extent, fibre-to-the-home.

Telkom said in its latest annual report that it has a strong focus on fibre to the business and fibre to the base station because they have significantly higher ARPU than FTTH passed.

He said the biggest prize for Telkom to go after is fibre-to-the-base-station to support its mobile data growth.

Now read: Telkom not losing the fibre war – CEO

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The final fibre frontier in South Africa