Dark Fibre launched network in South Africa


Telecoms infrastructure company Dark Fibre Africa officially launched its network on Tuesday after laying 800km of fibre-optic cable to lease out to cellular operators and Internet service providers.

The company has laid networks in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town, carrying the physical costs and aiming to recoup its cash by supplying bandwidth to numerous operators that need to boost their capacity for voice, data and video services.

Dark Fibre will maintain and monitor the networks, which have cost it R1.5bn so far.

Its financial backers have pledged a total of R2bn, and include Community Investment Ventures, Venfin and Absa Capital.

Sales and marketing manager Malcolm Kirby said this week individual service providers were leasing the cable and "lighting" it by delivering high-speed services to their customers. That saved them from having to expand their networks themselves, and meant the capacity was already there as soon as they needed it.

Its cables should have enough capacity to accommodate all the network operators, and it has concentrated in metropolitan areas where there was a high chance of selling capacity to operators struggling to cope with bandwidth congestion. The bandwidth could also be used by smaller companies including Internet service providers that cannot afford to build their own infrastructure.

Dark Fibre has been rolling out its network since October 2007 but does not expect to be cash flow positive until next year or 2011. "The network was designed with excess capacity to accommodate all service providers and it is no longer necessary for any additional trenches to be dug by service providers where Dark Fibre Africa already has a network," Kirby said. "This dramatically reduces the disruption of road traffic and municipal services and allows operators to provide their services far more rapidly to customers."

Business Day