FibreCo said the massive investment would be spread over five years to connect Johannesburg and Cape Town, through Bloemfontein, East London and Port Elizabeth, which would provide access to a wide range of rural and smaller urban areas along the route.
Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of FibreCo said the network was expected to accelerate the delivery of affordable, reliable and fast internet access to South African citizens and enterprises, which would be in line with government’s objective to deliver 100% broadband penetration by 2020.
“FibreCo has heeded government’s call for the private sector to be part of a massive infrastructure development drive’ to boost economic growth and create job opportunities. The FibreCo network will not only contribute toward this objective, but it will also bring tangible broadband accessibility to poorly connected rural areas,” said Ngcaba.
FibreCo is a joint venture between Cell C, Convergence Partners and Internet Solutions, and has signed capacity purchase agreements with British Telecom (BT), Cell C and Internet Solutions, as its first three clients.
Telecoms heavyweight, Alan Knott-Craig, CEO of Cell C hailed the network launch saying: “The gap in access to broadband connectivity in SA’s rural and urban areas exists mainly because of a lack of cost-effective broadband transmission infrastructure. FibreCo’s broadband infrastructure development is critical to government’s wider ICT agenda of bringing down the cost of broadband access and increasing broadband penetration across SA by 2020.”
The launch of the cable comes a week before the commissioning of the US$90m West Africa Cable System that links southern Africa and Europe, spanning the west coast of Africa and terminating in London, UK. This cable system is the biggest to ever land on the African continent and is owned by MTN, Vodacom, Neotel, Telkom and Broadband Infraco.
South African telecoms players are investing heavily in data services ahead of the spectrum allocation, which is imminent, and will allow the roll-out of the long term evolution system in the country.
FibreCo said it expected to start offering services on selected routes from early 2013, with the link between Johannesburg and Cape Town anticipated to be operational in the latter half of 2013.