SA rail to lease excess fibre

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) said on Wednesday (30 October) it is looking to lease out excess fibre optic capacity from its 900 km network to interested telecoms companies.

Optic fibre delivers high-speed and high-capacity broadband for companies providing Internet, voice phone and television services and is seen as the better option when compared to expensive satellite connections or copper wire, which is often a target of thieves.

PRASA said it owns a combination of 24 and 48 core single mode optic fibre network that runs alongside its rail lines with both an aerial and underground redundancy route.

The network is primarily a metropolitan one in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal provinces and the agency said it is also rolling out more optical fibre and capacity.

Demand for broadband services through both wired and wireless access is expanding in Africa’s biggest economy but the upfront cost to Internet providers to increase their own fibre remains prohibitive.

Shared capacity is likely to increase competition and force pricing down.

PRASA issued documents inviting expressions of interest to determine whether demand would be met through existing infrastructure or by installing additional capacity.

The state-owned agency said it preferred long-term leases and was open to revenue sharing arrangements provided it received a basic guaranteed income.

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SA rail to lease excess fibre