The past year will undoubtedly go down in history as the year in which FTTH (fibre to the home) became a reality for South Africans.
The fast uptake and large deployments we have started to see were primarily driven by one community that decided to take matters into their hands The Parkhurst community, in Johannesburg, put out a tender to deploy fibre in their neighbourhood. The success of that project is now being mirrored in neighbourhoods across the province.
IS has been working with Vumatel, the company that won the tender in Parkhurst, to deploy and maintain the suburb’s fibre network. For this, and the countless other deployments we have partnered with, IS provides the beachhead environment, where the fibre pulls into one single point.
From there, we let our clients leverage off our existing interfaces – giving them access to a single interface to deploy broadband services, irrespective of who the underlying provider is. As more ‘fibrehood’ providers pop up and start to offer services in different cities, it will be tough for companies that are focused on the consumer to build a provisioning engine for each of the fibre regions. In these cases, IS is the solution, because we have the capability to provide these services and be agnostic to the underlying fibre provider by offering a collective experience to everyone.
IS has also been active in servicing corporate South Africa – deploying fibre to malls and business precincts. The uptake of our fibre services has been fantastic, and the feedback we get from clients is positive, from both a cost and infrastructure perspective.
Businesses that now have access to fibre and this abundant bandwidth can accelerate their processes and growth plans, thanks to the advantages of fibre connectivity.
In 2014, we also started to see the tangible benefits that the FibreCo backhaul is delivering to our clients. Along with driving down the input costs of long-haul links, our long-distance backhaul also gives our customers the opportunity of real geographic diversity.
With SDN (software defined networks) becoming a reality, the ability for IS clients to turn on that bandwidth, at a Layer 2 level and on-demand, is exciting. It has started to stretch the imagination of where we can go with this technology. This will start to take the effort away from ISPs in terms of managing the network, giving them the agility to focus on what matters – the client.
But with fibre, it’s not just about providing broadband Internet services. The capacities that fibre allows, also offers incredible opportunities within the education and healthcare sectors, ultimately allowing these organisations to provide world-class services to people around the country.
The industry is watching the success of these neighbourhood fibre deployments very carefully. I have no doubt that they will become incredibly popular and this in itself will define how we move forward. As soon as all the checkboxes are ticked, and these neighbourhoods have access to true high-speed broadband over fibre, we will see the next big wave of fibre deployment in South Africa.
Where will IS be? Right there, at the core of these networks, driving the technology that we believe will uplift South Africa more than any other technology that came before it.