Faster, more reliable Internet in South Africa

Level 3 Communications, a large Tier 1 Internet Protocol (IP) services provider, established a node in Johannesburg earlier this year and recently expanded to another Teraco data centre in Cape Town.

“Six months ago we had no operations at all in SA and now we have a node in Cape Town and a node Johannesburg,” Emmanuel Arnould, director of sales for France, Middle-East, and Africa at Level 3 told MyBroadband.

In addition to the two points of presence in Johannesburg and Cape Town, Level 3’s operations also include capacity on Neotel’s protected fibre ring between the two cities and international capacity on undersea cables.

Arnould said that that they have 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) on both Seacom and the West Africa Cable System (Wacs).

They also intend to buy capacity on the EASSy cable system.

While Level 3 routes traffic dynamically over all its links, Arnould explained that they will also keep their undersea capacity on the East and West coasts of Africa equal.

This will ensure that they have sufficient redundant bandwidth in the event of cable failure, said Melvin Lunn, sales engineer for the European and African markets at Level 3.

Operators and service providers already connected

Arnould and Lunn couldn’t get into specifics about their clients, but said that they have already interconnected with operators and network service providers in South Africa.

One Level 3 client that is already public knowledge is Mweb, which has an agreement to access Level 3’s content delivery network (CDN).

This interconnection between network operators and Level 3 happens in Teraco’s data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Lunn said they chose Teraco because they are “pushing the neutral way”.

According to Arnould and Lunn it has proven to be very easy to connect to South African customers at Teraco.

“Every customer we talk to say [Teraco] is the best choice,” Arnould said.

Broadcaster services

In addition to IP transit services for network providers, Level 3 has also recently added Vivix to its product portfolio through a partnership with Telemedia, Arnoud said.

“Vivix is essentially a fibre-based video transport service,” Lunn explained.

This lets Level 3 customers bring the video signal of live events connected to the Level 3 backbone to South Africa. Similarly, customers can also send video signals all over the world from South Africa, Arnoud said.

Asked about their relationship with Telemedia, Arnoud and Lunn said that it enables connectivity between Level 3 and the broadcasters.

Telemedia is essentially an access provider to broadcasters, Lunn said.

He went on to explain that they have Asynchronous Serial Interface (ASI) links to Telemedia’s teleport.

ASI is a standard broadcast signal, Lunn said, which can be used to carry H.264-encoded broadcast quality signals in standard or high definition.

“Anyone who needs to get Telemedia’s tele-port on ASI links… we can do that,” Lunn said.

Level 3 also offers services for web video, Arnould said. In addition to their CDN, Arnould said that Level 3 can also repackage streaming content to go to any kind of device.


When MyBroadband first reported on Level 3’s entry into the South African market in January 2013, two local Internet service providers (ISPs) said that Level 3’s prices are very aggressive.

These ISPs said that Level 3’s international bandwidth and transit prices were significantly lower than previous market prices from Neotel and Telkom.

Asked about the price potential clients can expect to pay for Level 3 transit services, Arnould said that they sell at a premium price.

This is because they don’t just offer another IP transit service, but access to their CDN too, Arnould said.

According to Arnould, Level 3 is probably the most connected network on the planet and is linked to every other IP backbone. This gives them the best access to content, Arnould said.

He said that a CDN such as Level 3’s is very important to network operators and service providers because South Africa is very far from content.

“It gives tremendous value to providers,” said Arnould.

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Faster, more reliable Internet in South Africa