ADSL versus FTTH battle in SA emerging

The first fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services are emerging in South Africa, and even Telkom is embarking on an FTTH proof of concept to replace their existing ADSL infrastructure.

ATEC Systems and Technologies unveiled its Maboneng fibre network recently, offering broadband, managed internet, TV and telephony services.

This follows an announcement in January 2012 that ATEC had completed the first phase of a fibre network rollout to create South Africa’s first non-gated fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) community in Clifton, Cape Town.

“The FTTH network is designed to be future proof, central to the IP-centric future of the east-side precinct, providing network speeds of up to 100Mbps on standard installations and up to 1024Mbps on customized installations,” said ATEC commercial director, Gerhard Loots.

ATEC’s pricing is currently in-line with Telkom’s ADSL offerings, but because of the scalability of FTTH (with speeds of up to 1Gbps), it is only a matter of time before FTTH provides far better value for money than ADSL.

Telkom is well-aware that it needs to boost its fixed-line broadband value proposition, and the company is already improving its ADSL network and is planning to start piloting FTTH services.

In March 2012 Telkom officially announced that it has begun rolling out 3,700 multi-service access nodes (MSANs) that will replace 2,700 older generation cabinets and add another 1,000 to their number.

Alphonzo Samuels, managing executive for network infrastructure provisioning, explained that MSANs can be used to offer higher speed ADSL (ADSL 2+), very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL), and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services.

It is understood that Telkom will replace their ADSL infrastructure with fibre in the trial areas, and will hence offer subscribers with VoIP services instead of traditional copper-based telephony products.

Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) CEO, Gustav Smit called on Internet service providers (ISPs) to invest in last mile fibre infrastructure to provide services like FTTH.

DFA provides open access fibre infrastructure which can be used to provide services like fibre broadband connections. “This enables licensed mobile operators and ISPs like Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Internet Solutions and MWEB to give communities access to the network.”

Smit has called on ISPs to play a leading role in mobilising communities. “End-users simply don’t know what 20Mbps or 100Mbps to the home means. An opportunity needs to be created for users to test drive serious broadband.”

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ADSL versus FTTH battle in SA emerging