Mobile giant MTN and fixed line operator Neotel are to spend up to ZAR2 billion (USD196 million) on a 5,000km fibre optic cable network that will allow them to bypass state-run Telkom’s infrastructure. The two companies said building out a network in partnership together would help reduce construction and maintenance costs, saving each up to ZAR500 million. MTN said having its own cable would save the company ZAR200 million in operating costs in 2009, as well as the transmission cost savings which could be as much as ZAR6.3 billion over ten years.
The project will enhance connectivity with the undersea cables, Seacom and Eassy, expected to be operational in 2009 and 2010 respectively, and result ‘in almost unlimited bandwidth’. MTN’s head of southern Africa, Tim Lowry, said the first phase would see a 600km route linking Johannesburg to Durban, followed by a link from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Construction is scheduled to start in the first week of March and is expected to be completed before the 2010 football World Cup is held in the country.