Developers of the R1.7bn Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth‘s western suburbs have signed a landmark deal with South Africa’s largest mobile communication provider, Vodacom, signalling a watershed moment in the development of “smart cities” throughout the country.
The deal will see Vodacom light the entire high speed fibre optic backbone of the 320 hectare Baywest City development, providing high speed internet to Baywest Mall tenants and shoppers alike. By lighting the network, Vodacom will be providing the data to end users using Baywest’s fibre optic infrastructure.
Baywest is the first large scale “green fields” development in the country to incorporate a wholly functional fibre optic backbone from inception. A development spanning the next decade, Baywest City includes commercial and retail offerings, as well as residential nodes with a private school and hospital in a model similar to Cape Town‘s Century City development. Baywest Mall, which opens in April next year, is the catalyst for the entire project.
Baywest MD Gavin Blows said the deal paved the way for Baywest City to become an interconnected “smart city”.
It meant homes and businesses within the Baywest precinct could be connected to fast, reliable internet, better managing security systems while allowing for the technological development of homes and businesses to progress in leaps and bounds, he said.
“It will be a smart city with fibre optics throughout, allowing for high speed internet access. The security and internet access will run off this fibre optic backbone,” said Blows. “The new model of city development needs to have the latest technology.”
For tenants of the mall it meant having ground breaking technology at their fingertips.
“The fibre optic network also allows for free calls within the precinct, reduced call rates, easy cloud computing, and live gaming without any lag, among a host of other advantages,” said Blows.
“We no longer have to talk about what it means to live in a smart city – we are building one,” said Blows. “Having a high speed fibre optic backbone lit by South Africa’s biggest cellular provider fits well with our slogan: ‘Expect Big Things’.”
With just over 1,600 workers currently working on the mall, Blows said tenant installations were on track to start from December.
“There are about 3.5km of shop fronts throughout the mall and about 35km worth of electrical cabling,” Blows said.
Carol Hall, Managing Executive: Vodacom Eastern Region, said; “In September we launched fibre-to-the- business services in South Africa, building on the more than R2 billion Vodacom has already invested in high-speed fibre infrastructure to connect our mobile base stations. Baywest is a flagship partnership for Vodacom FTTB (fibre-to-the-business) in the Eastern Cape, which we hope will be the first of many installations bringing world-class business connectivity to the region.”
Also on track was the R300m Baywest road network, connecting the mall to the nearby N2 freeway via a series of on-ramps and off-ramps. The first phase of the network, connecting Walker Drive with the mall and the freeway, is scheduled for completion in March next year, with the link to Cape Road in Bridgemeade/Rowallan Park set for opening next September, he said.
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