Frogfoot’s fibre plans for 2023 — including a possible international expansion

South African fibre network operator (FNO) Frogfoot is considering a potential international expansion and will increase its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollouts in densely populated areas in 2023.

Frogfoot passed 350,000 homes in the country with its FTTH fibre network by the end of 2022.

Of these homes, 135,000 are using its network, making it the third-largest fibre operator in South Africa in terms of homes connected.

The only two with more customers are Vumatel, South Africa’s first big proponent of mass-market FTTH, and Openserve, which established its network when Telkom had a monopoly on fixed-line infrastructure in South Africa.

MyBroadband recently spoke to Frogfoot chief development officer Shane Chorley to learn more about the operator’s plans for 2023.

Chorley said that Frogfoot was looking beyond South Africa for growth.

“We are investigating a few other territories, but these are still very much in an incubation stage and nothing concrete yet,” he stated.

Chorley explained that several European countries still had a relatively low density for fibre usage.

“Even though they have good DSL connections, we believe there exists the opportunity to bring high-speed fibre to more homes,” he said.

Shane Chorley, Frogfoot chief business development officer

Another major focus for the company will be on expanding its fibre network in high-density areas at a large scale.

As part of this plan, Frogfoot will deploy more aerial fibre installations instead of trenching.

“[Aerial fibre] is the standard deployment methodology in such areas,” he said. “It is not only more cost effective, but easier to install and maintain in high-density areas.”

Chorley said this approach would reduce Frogfoot’s rollout cost per home, enabling more aggressively-priced fibre Internet packages.

In the broader industry, Chorley expects different bundling and effective price drops in high-density areas in 2023, purely because of the improved build-to-cost ratio.

“Then there are changes to the way in which these services are being billed, with prepaid fibre Internet to gain in popularity,” he stated.

Chorley added that Frogfoot was still in a planning phase regarding its targeted rollout areas and would only share these once they went live.

Combatting load-shedding is a costly exercise

MyBroadband also asked Chorley how Frogfoot was readying its network for the high levels of load-shedding anticipated in 2023.

Several FNOs — including Frogfoot — previously said their backup systems were sufficient to continue supporting FTTH connectivity up to stage 6 load-shedding.

Based on the trend in the Eskom generating fleet’s energy availability factor and high levels of breakdowns, experts are warning that the power cuts will likely reach stage 7 or stage 8 during the year.

Frogfoot has already invested heavily in upgrading its network to handle the rotational power cuts over the past two years, and, according to Chorley, that trend will continue.

“Sadly, it seems our predictions are correct, and load-shedding is with us for the long term,” Chorley said.

“Over the coming year, we will invest R40 million in additional capital expenditure and further increase our resilience across the network as the demand for reliable energy supply increases.”

Now read: Openserve’s fibre plans for 2023 — and how its prices compare

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Frogfoot’s fibre plans for 2023 — including a possible international expansion