New launch date for Joburg Broadband Project

The team behind the controversial R1.2 billion City of Joburg Broadband Project hopes to have it lit up within the next 90 days.

The 940 km fibre optic network, with a 1.2Tb core capacity, providing fast internet connectivity to 7 regions of the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) municipality, was due to go live in July 2013.

The head of the city’s broadband project, Zolani Matebese, told BusinessTech that the CoJ was in the process of putting together a “municipal entity” to run the project.

This is after the terminated the contract of CitiConnect Communications at the start of the month due to the company’s “failure to honour [its] contract obligations”.

CitiConnect launched BWired in 2010 to operate and manage the network for a period of 12 years, upon completion in 2013 (original scheduled date).

This would have been managed at a cost of R280 million a year, in conjunction with Ericsson.

It was proposed that, after the 12 years, the CoJ would then take over management of the network.

Matebese said that he was in discussions on “an orderly handover over to the city” amid an arbitration with CitiConnect.

According to a report in the Star, CitiConnect said the cancellation of the contract was in dispute.

“Essentially, the city has terminated the agreement unlawfully,” CitiConnect told the paper.

The Star also reported that the network could be built for closer to R400 million, citing the Democratic Alliance (DA), following consultation with the FTTH council, a body representing fibre-optic firms.

The DA said that it would cost  a maximum of R100 million annually.

Matebese called the report in the Star inaccurate, noting that an audit conducted for the CoJ found that the network was worth R1.2 billion.

He said that any industry expert would understand the costs involved in laying and maintaining fibre infrastructure.

He also pointed out that the CoJ went through a rigorous tender process in 2008, when the idea for a network was initially proposed.

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New launch date for Joburg Broadband Project