Fibre broadband coming to your suburb

Broadband internet. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Broadband internet. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town - Fibre broadband is coming to South African suburbs, and residents can choose to be next in line for connection.

On Wednesday, Vuma announced that its fibre to the home network has gone live in Parkhurst, north of Johannesburg.

The open access service will come in a variety of flavours, from 4mbps (megabits per second) up to a blistering 1gbps, but pricing will be dependent on service providers who will offer consumer packages.

"Not only does the network provide consumers with high speed access, but furthermore provides the ability to have both choice and control of their access to the information super highway", said Vumatel CEO Niel Schoeman.

But Vuma is not the only player in the broadband space. Telkom is investigating the rollout of broadband to complement its existing network and meet the demand for high speed cable service.

Open access

Internet service provider Cybersmart has announced the launch of Lightspeed, a 100mbps uncapped fibre service. At that speed, the service allows companies to compete with first world counterparts, but you have to have deep pockets to access it.

The company claims the fibre broadband service is cheaper than competing offerings, but out of range of most households at R11 999 - that's per month.

In SA, there are a maximum of six million possible ADSl connections based on legacy infrastructure and currently around 850 000 subscribers mainly on Telkom's network.

However, the Draft National Broadband Policy has identified 100% broadband as a national priority.

"It is Government's objective to ensure that universal service and access to broadband for all is attained", says the document, calling for open access to networks.

The policy called for Telkom to make its hardware available to expand broadband access in the country.

"In the fixed market Telkom is the sole provider of ADSL lines, though again there is some resale by internet service providers. Whilst prices have come down, they remain high by global standards", the policy says.

According to Telkom, speeds of up to 90mbps were observed in Rosebank, Bryanston, and the Waterkloof.

Mobile operators Vodacom and MTN have also publically stated that they intend to enter the cable broadband market.

Mobile operators

MTN will offer services on the Vuma network and Vodacom has made a bid to buy fixed line operator Neotel. That deal is still subject to regulatory approval.

Vumatel plans to roll out the network to 42 suburbs in the first phase and you can get your neighbourhood connected by registering on the website.

"Suburbs that reach a specific target first will be the next to enjoy the high speed offered by fibre.  Adding a little competitive fun, visitors to the site will be able to see which suburb is currently leading the race to become the next Vuma 'fibrehood'," the company said.

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