Outdated policies hurting fibre roll-out

2011-09-07 18:01
East London - Outdated policies and pedantic approval from local government is hurting the rapid roll-out of fibre for broadband in SA and proving costly, according to Dark Fibre Africa.

Speaking at the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (Satnac) in East London, Eastern Cape, Gustav Smit, CEO of Dark Fibre Africa said: "Unfortunately there are some challenges in this industry at the moment in terms of fibre roll-out.

"It's a slow and costly process to put fibre into the ground," he said.

Smit said that the fact that city councils, provincial and national road owners controlled fibre roll-out, was costing the industry and the country dearly.

He highlighted the urgent need for more fibre and at a quicker pace, however he pointed to an additional prohibitor, namely that it could take between six and nine months to get permission to lay fibre at certain bridge crossings or railway areas. "We can't take that kind of thing," Smit said. He called for assistance from the Department of Communications (DoC) and city councils wherever possible to speed up the administration procedure.

Industry fragmented

"This industry is very fragmented. In some city councils we find policies that are 50-60 years old," Smit said. "It's impossible to get those things revised," he added. He said a co-ordinated effort was required to rewrite policies.

The CEO acknowledged that authorities were there to protect roads, but added that "they don't necessarily understand the economic benefits of fibre".

He said that very few business models existed to recover the cost of installing fibre into a building.

He provided an example of a fibre stretching 10km at a cost to a single customer of R50 000, but added that servicing more people would reduce costs. "Fibre is a numbers game," Smit said.

He called on ISPs to develop business plans that catered for fibre.

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