SA ‘lags’ in corporate fibre connections

Byron Clatterbuck, CEO of Seacom. (Seacom)
Byron Clatterbuck, CEO of Seacom. (Seacom)

Johannesburg - South Africa is far behind Europe and the US when it comes to corporates being connected to fibre broadband.

This is according to the chief executive officer of pan-African telecom services company Seacom, Byron Clatterbuck.

Big metropolitan areas in South Africa, such as Johannesburg and Cape Town, have seen an uptick in fibre to the home (FTTH) connections from the likes of Vumatel, Telkom and MTN.

But while more consumer households get connected to fibre, Clatterbuck said that corporates in the country still have a long way to go.

"When you look at it, for commercial buildings, the percentage of connectivity is less than 4% in South Africa,” Clatterbuck told Fin24 on Thursday as he cited research regarding local fibre connections.

"When you look at places like Europe and the United States, you're maybe getting up to 30-40%,” he said.

Clatterbuck also said that some fibre providers in SA connect back into old legacy networks in metro areas, which risks resulting in congestion for corporate clients.

"You go from a super highway to a single lane carriage way,” Clatterbuck told Fin24.

Another challenge facing the local fibre corporate market includes a lack of competition in certain office parks where there are only single broadband providers, said Clatterbuck.

However, Seacom is looking to shake up this local corporate fibre broadband market after the company officially launched its enterprise unit on Thursday.

Seacom Business plans to tap the company’s 17 000 km undersea cable along Africa’s eastern coastline to provide high-speed connectivity and cloud services to corporates in South Africa and other parts of Africa.

The company further intends to partner with fibre providers to offer these corporates data connection speeds that range from 25mbps (megabits per second) to 1gbps (gigabits per second).

Other services are set to include voice over internet protocol (VOIP) offerings.

The launch of Seacom Business also forms part of the company’s next phase, according to Clatterbuck.

Seacom was first to launch a high-speed, undersea broadband cable along Africa’s East coast in 2009, and now the company is building services on top of that.

"We're now taking our international fibre optic capabilities and say that we're going to deliver those to corporates,” said Clatterbuck.

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