http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 14.49Change: 0.10
R/$ = 10.50Change: 0.05
Au 1294.90 $/ozChange: -0.67
Pt 1407.50 $/ozChange: -21.00
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Nelson Mandela 1918 - 2013   Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science & Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Apr 25, 2007

Infraco already mulling West Coast submarine cable prospect

Back
Eskom|Neotel|Public Enterprises|Telkom|Africa|Europe|Australia|Britain|Malaysia|South Africa|Long-distance Network|Network Operator|Transport|West Coast|Papi Molotsane|Portia Molefe|Thabo Mbeki|Financial Times|Far East|West Coast|World Cup|Broadband
eskom|neotel|public-enterprises|telkom|africa|europe|australia-country|britain|malaysia|south-africa|longdistance-network|network-operator|transport-industry-term|west-coast-natural-feature|papi-molotsane|portia-molefe|thabo-mbeki|financial-times|far-east|west-coast|world-cup|broadband
© Reuse this



Although a new State-owned broadband provider, currently dubbed Infraco, is yet to be formally established, it is understood that the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has mandated the current interim management team to study the possibility of investing in a new fibreoptic cable linking South Africa to the Europe via the West Coast.

DPE director-general Portia Molefe tells Engineering News that recent Cabinet approval for the Broadband Infrastructure Company Bill, has opened the way for the Parliamentary processes that should see the formal creation of Infraco, which comprises assets currently owned by Eskom and Transnet, during the first half of the year. But she also insists that a lot of work is already under way both for the domestic long-distance network and potentially an intercontinental link.

Infraco’s operations are currently being run through an Eskom subsidiary, which has its own CEO designate and board. It is finalising the construction of the infrastructure to the specifications required by the second-network operator, Neotel, which will effectively contract its services – at one stage, it was anticipated that the long-distance assets would actually form part of the second network operator, but that decision was reviewed.

For this reason, the Eskom subsidiary is currently rolling-out the infrastructure, as well as creating network redundancy and smaller rings, in line with the Neotel spec. It is also testing and lighting the dark fibre.  But with the recent Cabinet approval, Infraco’s separation from Eskom and Transnet will now proceed, probably along similar lines to the separation of SAA from Transnet.

Four-year exclusivity with Neotel, but . . .
Initially, Infraco will have a four-year exclusivity with Neotel, which will sell or retail this wholesale bandwidth on a cost-plus model to the market. However, it is likely that within that four-year window, Infraco will seek a licence, which could see its capacity, which is said to be more extensive than that offered by Telkom, open to all comers.

In addition, if it is found that Neotel is not passing on infrastructure pricing that is reflective of Infraco’s costs, the licencing process could be accelerated. Given that Neotel would be the retailer of Infraco’s bulk service, it would also have to be open to providing that capacity to all potential customers in South Africa, including the incumbent, Telkom. Should it fail to do so, it would be in breach of contract, which could act as another potential trigger for accelerating the licencing process.

The licence would also feasibly open the way for Infraco, probably in consortium with others, to pursue a submarine cable project. However, it is moving ahead with studies regardless.

Political pressure
Infraco’s submarine cable deliberations come against the backdrop of political pressure for improved African connectivity, going all the way up to South African President, Thabo Mbeki.

In a recent interview with Britain’s Financial Times, Mbeki described bandwidth prices as “phenomenal”, adding that to use the undersea-cable network linking Africa to the world was “many hundred percent more per unit of time than is being charged elsewhere in the world”. Days later, Telkom CEO Papi Molotsane quit, with some speculating that his inability to align Telkom’s business strategy with government’s demand for lower telecoms prices and better African connectivity, particularly through the politically-vexed Eastern Africa Submarine System, or EASSy cable, as key to his decision.

At present, the continent is connected to the rest of the world via the SAT3/WASC/SAFE submarine system, which involves 36 nations. The West Coast link is a 15 000-km optic cable linking Europe with South Africa and a number of countries on the West African coastline, while the SAFE, or South Africa-Far East, continues the connection another 13 800 km to Malaysia via Reunion. The systems ultimate capacity will be 120Gigabits a second.

Capacity and pricing
But Molefe reveals that the DPE is supporting Infraco in its efforts to study a new West Coast submarine cable for various reasons. She did not, however, place a monetary value to the possible project, saying only that various configurations were being studied.

Molefe argues, for instance, the current capacity would not be sufficient to support South Africa’s bid for the so-called square-kilometre-array (SKA) international science project, which would require capacity of 1 terabit-a-second by 2014.

In September last year, South Africa was short-listed along with Australia as the possible host country for the $1-billion SKA – a project that envisages a radio telescope with an effective collecting area more than 30 times greater than the largest telescope ever built. Part of South Africa’s bid includes a guarantee that it will have the necessary broadband capacity to transport the large amounts of information arising from the SKA.

In addition, it could also be desirable to have additional capacity to provide a certain degree of redundancy for the soccer World Cup. But given the timeframes that ambition might not be practical to implement.

“Infraco is busy setting out the business case with capacity options,” Molefe reports, adding that DPE is of the view that South Africa and Africa is in desperate need of an “open-access cable” rather than the current model of telco-operated cables.

But main rationale for DPE’s support arguably lies in a desire to reduce the price of bandwidth as well as to create the capacity for an explosion of bandwidth related business opportunities in South Africa and Africa.

Molefe argues that a cable, which could be operated on a cost-plus model, would gel with the terrestrial model currently under development by Infraco. “Solving the terrestrial bandwidth constraints is but half the problem. We still need to get from here, to, at the very least, Europe.”
 
Terrestrial first
But Molefe stresses that, for now, Infraco should be viewed as a national long-distance provider of high-quality terrestrial bandwidth and that the decision to establish the company was driven by a desire to place downward pressure on prices.

Indeed, in a press statement released this week, the DPE stressed that the new long-distance network has sufficient capacity to provide high-speed national connectivity for at least the next 20 years, and is capable of supporting commercial, government, scientific and special-event requirements such as the 2010 World Cup.

Infraco, the release states, will initially be funded from the National Revenue Fund and the private sector, and is projected to be self-funding within four years of launch.  The immediate capital investment is being undertaken to provide infrastructure support to Neotel.


© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Latest News
Few would argue with the notion that unemployment, which stands at around 25% on the narrow definition as reported by Statistics South Africa, remains one of the country’s most pressing challenges. Fewer still could contest the view that South Africa’s education...
Renewable-energy projects, such as this Northern Cape solar farm, seen as key to low‐carbon energy supply.
Upfront investment costs will and should remain a critical consideration as South Africa moves to upscale and accelerate its infrastructure programmes. But one of the lead authors of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues that the...
The barrier to efficient water service delivery in South Africa was not of a technological nature but rather related to legal and Constitutional challenges, Water Research Commission (WRC) CEO Dhesigen Naidoo said on Thursday. Opening a WRC debate under the theme...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2014: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2014 report provides an overview of the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon steel and stainless...
Projects in Progress 2014 - First Edition (PDF Report)
This publication contains insight into progress at the delayed Medupi and Kusile coal-fired projects, in Mpumalanga and Limpopo respectively, as well as at the Ingula pumped-storage scheme, which is under construction on the border between the Free State and...
Automotive 2014: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
The report provides insight into the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local construction demand, geographic diversification, competition within the sector, corporate activity, skills, safety, environmental considerations and the challenges...
Construction 2014: A review of South Africa's construction sector (PDF Report)
Construction data released during 2013 hints at a halt to the decline in the industry during the last few years, with some commentators averring that the industry could be poised for recovery. However, others have urged caution, noting that the prospects for a...
Electricity 2014: A Review of South Africa's Electricity Sector (PDF Report)
This report provides an overview of the state of electricity generation and transmission in South Africa and examines electricity planning, investment in generation capacity, electricity tariffs, the role of independent power producers and demand-focused initiatives,...
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
The Electronic Systems Laboratory (ESL) of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University is strongly reaffirming its position as one of South Africa’s leading centres for satellite technology and expertise. It is currently...
MORE IN SA Phase 2 should see local content on the mainline locomotive increase from 65% to 80% by the end of 2014
The world’s lowest-cost diesel-electric locomotive is not made in China, but in Pretoria, at RRL Grindrod Locomotives’ newly upgraded 30 000 m2 plant. The company’s locomotive pricing is “more competitive than any other original-equipment manufacturer (OEM)...
The South African Defence Review 2012, released to the public at the end of last month (despite the year given in its title) recommends the creation of the post of Chief Defence Scientist. This official would be responsible for the management of defence technology...
AltX-listed engineering technology company Ansys has been awarded an R188-million contract by Transnet to supply integrated dashboard display systems to the freight rail utility’s locomotives. Black-owned and controlled Ansys developed the bespoke integrated system...
South Africa’s sole nuclear power station Koeberg, which is located in the Western Cape, breached a major operations milestone on April 4, which marked the thirtieth anniversary of Unit 1 having been connected to the grid. Eskom, which operates the two-unit plant,...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks