Eastern Cape set for broadband rollout
UniNet and Ilizwi Telecommunications (ITel) recently concluded a deal that will see the rollout of a broadband network in the Eastern Cape. ITel is a licenced “Under Serviced Area Licencee” (USAL) for the OR Tambo district, which includes the towns of Umtata, Mqanduli, Libode, Tsolo, Qumbu, Ngqeleni, Tabankulu, Port St Johns, Lusikisiki, Flagstaff and Bizana.
Andile Nontso, director of Itel, says plans include the deployment of a wireless access network to deliver fixed and mobile voice and data services throughout the district. The first phase of this project is expected to be complete before July next year. UniNet will jointly operate the network with Itel for an initial five-year contract period.
Itel has said it will reduce costs of telecommunication in the region for government and consumers. The rollout will include public pay phones throughout the region, with the aim of empowering small businesses in the area to become resellers. Local economic development initiatives will also be launched to aid in empowering under-serviced communities to participate more easily in the economy, and to have better access to e-government services.
In 2005, UniNet deployed the first “completely WiFi covered town in Africa” in partnership with the Knysna Municipality. The Knysna project provides the municipality with cost effective communications across the region as well as low cost broadband internet and voice services for the community.
USAL’s have had to contend with the high costs of rolling out infrastructure in these under serviced areas. David Jarvis, CEO of UniNet says his company will build the network at roughly a quarter of the cost of other WiMAX or CDMA solutions available in South Africa, with similar coverage.