Major growth for fibre operator offering uncapped 100Mbps for R5 a day

South African fibre network operator (FNO) Fibertime (formerly Isizwe) has connected 7,500 homes to its network in Kyamandi.

The company has big expansion plans for 2024, targeting to connect 200,000 new homes in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and North West province townships in the next 12 months.

“We completed the installation of the Fibertime network in Kayamandi — we now have 7,500 homes and shacks connected (not just passed),” Fibertime CEO Steve Briggs told MyBroadband.

“We are consistently seeing more than R7.50 per connected home per day for connections older than six months, validating our business case.”

“We plan to connect our fibre network to 200,000 new homes in the next 12 months, encompassing townships in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and North West province,” he added.

Briggs says Fibertime’s VulaCoin cryptocurrency — which aims to be an open-access digital wallet for pay-as-you-go Internet — has been adopted by more than 40 Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa.

“It is setting the standard for micro-payments in the township digital economy,” he added.

MyBroadband also asked eKasi Fibre, Illitha Telecommunications, and Vumatel for updates on their affordable fibre rollouts, but they had not answered our questions by the time of publication.

Fibertime CEO Steve Briggs

Former iBurst and Mxit CEO Alan Knott-Craig launched Fibertime (then-Isizwe) in November 2022 with the goal of providing cheap uncapped fibre to South African townships.

The FNO partnered with several reputable companies to roll out its low-cost fibre model — including Liquid Intelligent Technologies, EasyEquities, Nokia, Asla, Cambium Networks, and Hexatronic.

After commencing its network construction in August 2022, the first phase went live on 7 November that same year.

It connected 3,000 homes in the Kayamandi township near Stellenbosch with uncapped fibre broadband boasting an average download speed of 100Mbps.

In December 2022, Briggs told MyBroadband that the FNO had expanded significantly and was preparing to offer new products.

“We recently connected another chunk of the Kayamandi population, this time using Wi-Fi on a kind of gum pole, if you can call it that,” he said.

“We call it a fibre tower, and that’s brought on about another 1,500 homes. We have now connected approximately 4,500 homes in Kayamandi.”

Regarding its new product offerings, Briggs said the company had partnered with MultiChoice’s Showmax to sell streaming vouchers using its VulaCoin currency.

“Showmax is working with us on a bundle solution, where our users in Kayamandi can benefit from a Showmax pass,” said Briggs.

“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.”

In May 2023, Fibertime told MyBroadband that it had connected 891 homes in Kyamandi with fibre and that users on the network had consumed more than 490TB of data since its launch.

Now read: Vumatel owner in R25-billion debt deal — South Africa’s biggest of 2023

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Major growth for fibre operator offering uncapped 100Mbps for R5 a day