R1.2 billion Joburg broadband drama continues

Conflict between city councillors in Johannesburg is delaying the resolution of the city’s terminated R1.2 billion fibre optic broadband project, The Times reported.

The fibre optic network, which was supposed to go live 18 months ago, was designed by Ericsson South Africa, and would have been managed by CitiConnect company, BWired.

It would have marked one of the biggest roll-outs of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere in terms of its 1.2Tb core capacity and 940km coverage, giving the City of Johannesburg true “Smart City” Status.

The project was terminated in August 2014. At the time, City of Johannesburg project leader, Zolani Matebese, said this was because of CitiConnect “[failing] to honour their contract obligations”.

The City claimed that CitiConnect created intermediary companies to sell capacity on the network, and allowed, without consent, one of its companies to create a second network.

CitiConnect said at the time of the cancellation that the matter was in dispute, claiming that the agreement was terminated unlawfully.

According to a report by The Times on Monday (5 January), the matter has still not been resolved as councillors debate whether or not to pay a R1.2 billion settlement to the companies involved and move ahead with its own project.

Quoting an ANC member close to the matter, The Times reported that Joburg mayor, Parks Tau, is at odds with other members of the ANC caucus, who want an explanation before deciding.

The paper reported that, according to council documents, settling the matter would absolve the city from paying R3.4 billion over the 12 years that the contract was to have run.

You can read the full report in The Times for 5 January 2015.

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R1.2 billion Joburg broadband drama continues