Big win for fibre in South Africa

Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) has won a battle in the Supreme Court of Appeal against the Msunduzi Municipality, the company said in a statement on Wednesday, 1 October 2014.

The case was filed by Msunduzi Municipality against Dark Fibre Africa in February 2014, after the company began constructing the initial phase of a fibre optic network in the Msunduzi municipal area for the South African government.

Dark Fibre Africa is a privately owned company that builds, operates, and maintains a carrier-neutral fibre optic infrastructure.

“This ruling is not only a win for Dark Fibre Africa but for the industry as a whole and we hope that it will enable more beneficial engagement between telecommunications operators and the various municipalities across South Africa in future,” said Tshego Distshego, DFA’s executive for brand and communications.

“We have and will continue to engage with the local municipality on the practical matters related to building our network in the Msunduzi municipality,” Ditshego said.

News of DFA’s win comes after CEO Gustav Smit told attendees of the MyBroadband conference on Tuesday, 30 September that it had been locked in a dispute with Msunduzi and that the municipality’s appeal was heard on 20 September.

Smit described how they tried to get permission from Msunduzi to roll out the fibre, and after weeks of waiting and multiple attempts to get wayleaves, they decided to exercise their rights as an operator under Section 22 of the Electronic Communications Act.

The municipality was informed of this decision and asked whether it would like to send out observers, which it did, Smit said.

Msunduzi then lodged a case with the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg.

“In this phase of network build we were building links for government entities and thus we were surprised when we were stopped by a local government entity,” Ditshego said.

The Supreme Court ruling in favour of DFA enables the company to continue with the building of a fibre optic network in the Msunduzi municipality, DFA said.

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Big win for fibre in South Africa