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‘More work needed on Africa’s fibre deployment’

By , ITWeb
South Africa , 30 Oct 2014

‘More work needed on Africa’s fibre deployment’

During a panel discussion held on 29 October at the FTTH Council’s 2014 Conference in Johannesburg, Chuks Ofor from TE Connectivity, Tim Parle from BMIT and Robert Schuman from Analysys Mason presented an overview of the African market.

Parle said the need to entrench connectivity between the East and West Africa remains a core objective for this market and operators like Liquid Telecom have been active in this regard.

Meanwhile, Schuman highlighted Jamii Telecommunications LTD in Kenya, Liquid Telecom in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Rwanda, and ipNX in Nigeria as some examples of how ventures are starting to make inroads in terms of fibre-based broadband.

He added that fixed broadband to the home can be done in a high cost way and a low cost way, and that this is not something radically new: it has been done before.

Schuman’s presentation stated that “Wananchi in Kenya demonstrates that fixed networks can be deployed at a low enough cost - at the right price, there is a reasonable demand for high speed broadband.”

Trends shaping the FTTH environment in Africa also include the agility of FTTH providers in covering major urban centres, LTE and new spectrum developments, as well as strong consolidation, said the experts.

Making the next move

In South Africa, operators within the broadband infrastructure space have adopted a wait-and-see approach on developments.

Specific reference was made to projects in the works to establish network routes.

“There is a standstill on national long distance build, with many players trying to work out what the next move will be,” said Parle.

According to Parle, the N2 route could be the next area of focus because of its strategic importance in linking up what is known as the ‘Golden Triangle’ comprising Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

Although there has been a slowdown in the development of broadband network infrastructure, major players in the private sector including Telkom, Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), Vodacom, MTN, and Neotel.

DFA’s acquisition of Conduct, IS joining the fibre frontier, Vodacom’s strong push, Vuma’s offering and Neotel’s reduction of broadband prices all pointed to a market that is changing Parle added.

Panelists also highlighted the role that governments can play, with the point raised that, in South Africa, a minimal intervention approach seems thus far to have worked within the FTTH space.  

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