KZN focus for Neotel

2008-02-06 00:00

Neotel, the country’s first so-called converged communications network operator, is up and running in KwaZulu-Natal, having already committed to an investment of more than R370 million in KZN and the Eastern Cape in a two-year period, R120 million of which has already been spent.

Speaking to The Witness at the launch of the company’s corporate offices at River Horse Valley near Umhlanga yesterday, Neotel MD Ajay Pandey said that KZN is a critical location for the company.

He added that the greater Durban area, with its service-based economy, poses an attractive market for Neotel.

"It is definitely one of the important legs of our overall game plan … In order for these service-based companies to be successful, they require quality information and telecoms support."

Pandey said that he has had an opportunity to take a look at the IT industry in the region.

"This is one area of South Africa that can trigger off a growth in the knowledge based economy."

The company already boasts 22 "enterprise customers" in the province and more than 40 blue-chip customers nationally. Neotel this week secured a R454 million tender with the State Information Technology Agency (Sita).

In addition, Seacom (the developer of a private submarine fibre optic cable that will connect SA, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania and Kenya to India and Italy) and Neotel recently entered into negotiations to offer Tenet (a not-for-profit entity that runs a national research and education network) discounted international bandwith for education and research purposes.

He noted that the "arrival" of Seacom in Mtunzini could mark the establishment of the region as a "distribution point of bandwith from SA to the globe".

He added that it is not inconceivable that IT giants such as Yahoo and Google may even consider setting up shop in Durban as a result.

Neotel has also secured contracts with the Further Education and Training Institutions.

Pandey noted that their acquisition of Transtel, a former "outfit" of Transnet, will strengthen their business presence in Durban by bringing Transtel’s existing customer base into the Neotel family.

Neotel has utilised local SME contractors in their roll-out process in KZN and the Eastern Cape, creating 1 200 jobs in the process.

Pandey noted that an additional 300 kilometres of fibre will be rolled out in the two regions, adding that 30 Wireless CDMA sites (or WiMax) will be established by the end of this year.

kavith@witness.co.za

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