Fibre-to-the-shack — uncapped 100Mbps for R5 a day

Isizwe — the company behind the Kyamandi Fibre Project — has released the latest results of its initial proof of concept fibre-to-the-shack project and highlighted several challenges it had to address to be successful.

The company has connected 891 homes with fibre, and users on the network have consumed more than 490TB of data since its launch in November 2022.

“The Kayamandi Fibre Project has achieved a significant objective by providing 891 households in Kayamandi with affordable and uncapped fibre internet, offering high-speed connectivity of over 100mbps for a minimal fee of R5 per day,” it said.

It was interesting to note that Isizwe’s new figure of 891 homes connected is significantly lower than the 4,500 it reported in December 2022.

This is because it had to substantially change its model after encountering problems with Wi-Fi signal degradation due to the metal many shacks are built with.

When the project kicked off, Isizwe CEO Steve Briggs told MyBroadband it was rolling out two types of connection models in Kayamandi.

“The brick structures have a fibre drop and a network termination unit. The tin structures receive their Wi-Fi through a pole-mounted outdoor, fibre-connected, Wi-Fi access point,” Briggs explained.

While the network operator initially wanted to use Wi-Fi hotspots to supply multiple homes to reduce costs, the metal shacks severely attenuated Wi-Fi signals.

To work around the issue, the company connected fibre directly to homes to avoid connectivity interruptions due to signal interference.

Another aspect Isizwe had to overcome was Eskom load-shedding, which prevented residents in the township from buying Internet access.

To allow residents to buy Internet access whenever needed, Isizwe installed one uninterrupted power supply (UPS) at each home.

Therefore, Isizwe now considers a dwelling “connected” if it has a router and UPS installed. There is no external Wi-Fi connection for the service.

The Kayamandi Fibre Project kicked off in November 2022. Iziswe aims to connect 180 million homes and serve one billion customers with uncapped pay-as-you-go fibre-to-the-home Internet.

Project Isizwe CEO Steve Briggs

Residents pay approximately R5 per day using a specially-created stablecoin called VulaCoin to access the service.

Isizwe has big plans for its fibre network in Kayamandi. In December 2022, Briggs told MyBroadband they had been piloting Showmax vouchers to create a lower entry point for residents to access streaming services.

“We’ve done some interesting pilots. One of them is with Showmax,” said Briggs. “Showmax is working with us on a bundle solution, where our users in Kayamandi can benefit from a Showmax pass.”

“We hope over the next few weeks to continue working with them and others to sell vouchers through our VulaCoin wallet, effectively making post-paid-type products like that more palatable to the prepaid market,” he added.

While Isizwe’s goal is to offer a broadband service that is much more affordable than mobile data, it aims to do so with a sustainable business model.

The company said it generates a maximum of R15.42 of revenue per home per day, with average revenue figures sitting at R6.92 per home per day.

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Fibre-to-the-shack — uncapped 100Mbps for R5 a day