[telegeography] According to TechCentral i3 Africa, a new company backed by the National Empowerment Fund, has announced plans to build a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network connecting up to 2.5 million homes within the next four to five years. The network, which is set to be built in six cities — Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and Pretoria — promises to provide customers with minimum connection speeds of 100Mbps. The network will operate on an 'open-access' principle, allowing third-party internet service providers (ISPs) to sell services to consumers; i3 Africa will not sell services directly to customers.
CEO Cornelius Groesbeek told TechCentral that the company will spend between ZAR5 billion (USD725.4 million) and ZAR6 billion on the network — approximately one-third of the cost usually associated with a FTTH rollout. i3 Africa plans to make savings by utilising metropolitan sewerage and water networks, negating the need for expensive civil works. i3 Africa has selected Durban to house a pilot network, and work on a 100km stretch is already underway. Upon completion, the Durban leg will consist of 2,500km worth of access fibre and a further 7,500km of FTTH/FTTB. Groesbeek commented: 'We’ve decided to focus first on Durban, which has a history of being an early adopter of innovative technologies, but we are engaging with everyone. We will have all that done during 2012, and sometime next year we will start on the core network in a second city'. A commercial rollout is planned from mid-2011.
i3 Africa announces plans to connect 2.5 million homes to fibre within five years