South Africa’s new fibre links go live


Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) today officially announced the completion of an open access dark fibre infrastructure linking the undersea cables landing at Mtunzini to Gauteng and Durban. DFA CEO Gustav Smit said that the completion of this project will transform the economics of bringing high capacity bandwidth to South Africa’s major economic hubs.

He said the sharing of the most expensive elements of a telecommunications network, such as trenches, ducts and manholes amongst multiple customers, enables DFA to deliver lightning fast fibre connections at a fraction of the price that these operators could build their own networks.

Commenting further, he said that “because of the level of hype’’, DFA opted to maintain a low profile until it had completed its route in fourteen months.“We already have two customers, Seacom and Vodacom, who have signed up on this route and are at an advanced stage of negotiations with several others.

The Durban to Mtunzini link has been operational for over a year now and has five customers, including Telkom, TENET, Broadband Infraco, MTN and Vodacom. Despite various national and international fibre projects, the perception of increasingly cynical business and individual consumers is that they have not witnessed any material change in the typical speed and cost of the internet connectivity offered by their service providers.

According to DFA, a major reason for this is the bottleneck that has existed in the availability of high speed terrestrial capacity between undersea landing stations and major metropolitan areas.

Smit said Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) has removed the last fundamental barrier preventing its customers, SA’s major telecommunications operators and Internet Service Providers, from delivering affordable high speed bandwidth to their customers.

Duncan Martin of Tenet, which operates the South African National Research Network (SANReN), said that inbound international traffic into the SANReN network has increased from 214 megabytes/second to 2.25 gigabytes/second “since DFA installed our link in record time.”

“The international satellite tracking station at Hartebeeshoek is now able to upload data that previously had to be sent via courier to Amsterdam, in real time at a speed of 1 gigabyte/second.  New open access telecommunications connections from the likes of DFA and Seacom have resulted in SANReN’s prices tumbling from a cost of R53,000 to R1,100 per megabyte, per month, today,” said Martin.

“Apart from connecting South Africa to the global internet, the route will also provide connectivity to smaller towns en route including Stanger, Empangeni, Richards Bay, Ermelo, Piet Retief, Middelburg and eMalahleni (Witbank). The route will also provide improved connectivity for mobile operators whose infrastructure is increasingly burdened by exponential growth in data traffic,” said Martin.

DFA has also commenced construction of a 160km route to link Cape Town to Yzerfontein where the WACS cable landed in April 2011. This route will be complete by the time the WACS cable is ready for commissioning early next year.

The completion of the Yzerfontein link will mean that the four biggest metros in SA will all have high speed international connectivity and high speed, open access fibre optic distribution networks.