Cape Town closer to R1.3 billion internet goals

The City of Cape Town says it has made big strides in its R1.3 billion broadband infrastructure programme, connecting 43 government Buildings and 141 city buildings, which is set to increase to 171 before the end of the year.

The metropolitan municipality has set aside R222 million over three years towards the roll-out of broadband infrastructure throughout the metro, which is part of the city’s R1.3 billion programme, needed to complete this task over the next seven years.

The city has also announced the signing of eight third-party service provider agreements, “which is a major step in the City of Cape Town’s Universal Broadband Network strategy,” it said.

The metropolitan municipality said that its fibre optic network has reached the point where it is robust and extensive enough to be leveraged off by the private sector.

The city also aims to bring sustainable WiFi access to previously under serviced communities.

According to the municipality, the broadband network has to date:

  • Saved the City R117 million in costs;
  • Increased the City’s internal internet speed 3,000 times;
  • Licensed eight third-party service providers with 20 more planned, including some of the countries larger telecoms companies.

It noted that “last mile” connections to commercial buildings are now being made, which will allow businesses in these buildings to utilise high-speed telecoms networks for access to converged services and faster, cheaper and more reliable internet connectivity.

Smaller operators are also able to use the same infrastructure to enter the market, generating competition in the ISP sector and stimulating economic growth in the Western Cape private sector as a whole, it added.

The Universal Telecoms Plan

The city  said it has already seen significant financial benefits from its investment in broadband.

“Thus far, we have saved R47.6 million in telecommunications costs and avoided R70 million in bandwidth costs for 2013/2014 financial year.”

Whilst the inclusion of more clinics, libraries and public buildings will continue, the focus has now expanded to make the network deliver on its development and public benefit potential, it said.

“This will be done in three ways: providing high-speed services to hospitals, police stations and other public facilities.”

The city has recently partnered with the Western Cape Government and the State IT Agency (SITA) to include public hospitals, South African Police Service (SAPS) police stations and the offices of Home Affairs, Environmental Affairs, Correctional Services and other government departments on the network.

The metropolitan municipality said that an agreement is currently being negotiated with SITA to begin connecting SAPS stations and other national government departments.

The City has also reached agreement in principle with the Tertiary Education Network (TENET) to connect FET colleges. The first institution to benefit from this is expected to be the various campuses of False Bay College.

Wi-Fi for underserved communities

The metropolitan municipality said that its fibre optic cables provide the backbone of wireless networks now being tested in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain.

“Once the technical model has been finalised, this will bring internet connectivity and other telecommunications services to over a million people living in areas which the private sector has not serviced adequately until now,” it said.

This project comes on the back of the city’s SmartCape project, which provides free internet access at 102 public libraries throughout the metro.

The SmartCape project has also expanded to provide WiFi internet access in public buildings, and has over 300,000 users.

“Once this pilot phase is successfully concluded later this year, the city will announce the steps that will be taken in the near future.

“It is envisaged that we will have a Mesh Network which will provide extensive Wi-Fi coverage beyond just a limited number of hot spots and directly into most people’s homes in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain,” the metropolitan municipality said.

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Cape Town closer to R1.3 billion internet goals