Broadband Infraco, the new State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) that will sell high capacity long distance transmission services to network service providers in South Africa, has confirmed that it will unveil its new ZAR1 billion (USD144.1 million) network during the third week of November. The company has been plagued by licensing issues since its inception three years ago. The Broadband Infraco Act of 2007 stipulates that telecoms regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is obliged to issue Broadband Infraco both an Individual-Electronic Communications Network Services (I-ECNS) licence and an Electronic Communication Services (ECS) licence. However, commercial ISPs objected to it receiving an ECS licence, as they claimed it would give the company an unfair advantage. In January 2010 ICASA bowed to communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda’s policy directive, and only awarded the I-ECNS concession. Broadband Infraco has since confirmed that it will operate exclusively within a wholesale business model, targeting both fixed and mobile operators, as well as internet service providers. Licensed operators may buy multiple capacity increments of 155Mbps – up to 10Gbps. Broadband Infraco’s lowest capacity service reportedly offers transmission speeds akin to 20 HD movies being screened simultaneously.
CEO Dave Smith commented: ‘In anticipation of receiving the I-ECNS licence, Broadband Infraco installed some 11,765km of fibre optic cable connecting Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban and other large metropolitan centres including Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth, East London, Nelspruit and Polokwane. The award of the Electronic Communications Services (ECS) licence from ICASA is the remaining piece of the puzzle for Broadband Infraco to deliver entirely on all aspects of its statutory mandate in accordance with applicable legislation’. According to Broadband Infraco, its network also extends connectivity to the borders of South Africa’s neighbouring countries, namely: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland. The fibre-optic cables are scalable up to hundreds of gigabits of data per second, depending on future growth.