Approximately ZAR100 million (US$10 million) will be needed to have the vast majority of South Africans connected to the internet by 2020, Peter Mafagana, senior manager of operations at Broadband Infraco, has revealed.
Mafagana was joined on a panel at the MyBroadband conference, in Johannesburg, by Gian Visser, chief executive officer (CEO) at Afrihost and Leon Staphorst, manager at the South African National Research Network (SANReN).
The trio shared their views on the future of national connectivity development.
Mafagana said ZAR100 million (US$10 million) will be needed to achieve the government’s 80 per cent connectivity goal by 2020.
The deployment cost of a single fibre network amounts to ZAR160,000 (US$16,050).
“It’s really expensive,” Mafagana said.
Majority government-owned Infraco revealed it will be connected to all the countries bordering South Africa by the end of the current financial year, with Botswana the last to come on board.
“We have seen quite a level of growth and demand on the borders,” Mafagana said.
He explained Infraco has the biggest covering with 13,000km of coverage to use, apart from Telkom.
Infraco is waiting for the release of the national broadband policy at the end of November before making decisions with regards to pricing.
According to Visser, Afrihost is unsure whether it will be able to continue offering its low-priced service as it depends on usage volumes.
Although able to become a service provider, Afrihost is concentrating on broadband and mobile currently stage.
IPC cuts, naked digital subscriber line (DSL) and a lower rental are needed for more growth, he believes.
“Fibre is going to grow massively in the future,” Visser said.
Mafagana said companies are progressively leaning towards creating its own infrastructure rather than making use of the existing infrastructure offered by telecoms.
Staphorst said convincing the commercial sector was one of the chief challenges as well as communication gaps between different departments in the establishment of its operations.
He believes the commercial space provides an opportunity for involvement to provide connectivity to educational and research projects.
“To help education is the root for what we need to increase our national competitiveness,” he said.
Staphorst related SANReN’s plans to accumulate more educational projects to operate on its extensive network of 149 sites including all main publications and the higher educational institutions.
The network will also provide bandwidth to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project as a technology driver.
“We are in the process of accumulating a massive amount of WAX connectivity to cater not only for the education and science communities, but also for the SKA,” he said.