SEACOM of discontent

20 Nov 2009

Submarine cable operator SEACOM has revealed that it has been disappointed by a lack of take-up in South Africa following the launch of the 15,000km, 1.28Tbps cable system in July 2009, reports. Company spokesman, Suveer Ramdhani, revealed that of the full SEACOM design capacity, ten wavelengths have been lit, supplying 100Gbps of bandwidth. The company believes take-up has been slow as anticipated price decreases brought about by the arrival of SEACOM have to a large extent not been realised; with the advantages of added bandwidth being slow to filter through to consumers. Ramdhani said: ‘The limiting factor is backhaul. There are those on the consumer side that want bandwidth, and there is us on the undersea side that want to give it – we just cannot seem to connect. It is kind of disappointing… The people who are willing to reduce prices in the market do not necessarily have their own access network. It really comes down to our channels to the market. The big boys that have direct access to customers, and have access to the national backhaul, need to start dropping their prices as well. Whilst there is some competition in the national leg, with Broadband Infraco and Neotel coming online, there is a lot of capital being pumped in, the price reductions that come with that national backhaul will only emerge a few years later.’

Ramdhani also criticised the lack of local access provision, adding: ‘The other major point is the access network… Even if you do solve national backhaul bottlenecks, how do you actually get to the consumer in his house or office? Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) is still many years away. These issues need to be addressed before consumers really begin to see the benefits of the cable initiatives.’