Telkom: Salt progress soon

2009-11-01 22:52

Johannesburg - A process to provide high-speed optic-fibre connections to the Southern African Large Telescope (Salt) in the Karoo is in progress, Telkom said on Sunday.

"Technical feasibility studies have been concluded... At present, Telkom and Meraka [Institute] are in the process of formalising the commercial parameters associated with the Salt location in Sutherland," said spokesperson Ajith Bridgraj.

Bridgraj was responding to the Sunday Times report that astronomers at the science facility had problems with slow downloads and have resorted to using courier services because the optic-fibre internet cable was not connected to the site.

The newspaper said negotiations to connect the last 50km or so have been going on for years and now appear to have deadlocked.

The deadlock, which is centred around a R10m quotation Telkom gave to the Council for Industrial Research (CSIR) to link the observatory to the main fibre optic cable, could jeopardise the bid to secure a multi-billion rand deal to build another telescope in the Karoo, the newspaper said.

Telkom allegedly demanded more

Telkom allegedly demanded more money because of concerns that the cost was too low.

The Democratic Alliance reacted with dismay, calling on the newly established ministerial committee to oversee the project to "urgently call Telkom into line".

"If Telkom had installed the link from Salt when it was first approached five years ago, rather than drag its feet, it would not be quibbling about the costs now," the party said in a statement on Sunday.

However, Bridgraj said Telkom and the Meraka Institute have forged a strategic partnership to ensure the successful design, commissioning and implementation of the South African National Research and Education Network (Sanren) aimed at setting up broadband access for the country's premier research facilities and universities.

"The current project is progressing well and the first nodes will become operational during December 2009," he said.