Fibre to support wireless web - Google

2011-08-11 11:22
Cape Town - A fibre backbone is important to support the wireless networks that are developing in SA, Google has said.

"In South Africa, there will still be some growth for cable especially as we get more fibre down in the ground. I think we'll see it mainly in the business sector," Google SA head of mobile Brett St Clair told News24.

"It will be dependent on how quickly we can roll out LTE [mobile communication standard] which is 21 megs download speed," he added.

In South Africa, there is low penetration of cable broadband and as more people buy wireless devices, the fibre networks may be reduced to playing a supporting role for "last mile" internet connectivity.

In the rest of Africa, wireless would dominate web access, St Clair said.


"When it comes to the rest of Africa, forget it. It's going to be WiMAX [Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access]; Wi-Fi."

The cost of broadband has declined significantly in SA since the introduction of the international Seacom and Wacs (West Africa Cable System) fibre cables, and Google wants lower costs to allow more people to go online.

"You need those broadband cables for the fibre backbone, otherwise it just costs too much to push it over satellite.

"Bringing it down on cable reduces the cost; bringing down the cost of traffic along those cables - we do things like global caching. Certain of our products are cached locally, and that stops it from going back up Europe and saves some international broadband," St Clair said.

He criticised the South African networks, saying they're fragmented, and warned that as internet access became more universal, there would be an exponential growth in demand for services.

Data traffic to Europe has become cheaper than local traffic in SA.

"We've got all this data coming in on either end and what's unbelievable is that we're not linking Joburg to Cape Town correctly. It's really fragmented.

"To really deal all the volume that's coming in from our wireless networks; going out, we really need that fibre backbone."

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