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May 09, 2011

R1,2bn Johannesburg broadband project making progress

City of Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo discusses the Johannesburg Broadband Network Project. Camera work: Nicholas Boyd; Editing: Darlene Creamer
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The Johannesburg Broadband Network Project (JBNP) , a joint venture between Ericsson and the City of Johannesburg, continues to make progress with some 300 km of fibre-optic cable having been laid in the core network from the south of Soweto to Midrand at a cost of R250-million.

In the first year of the network roll-out, 100 buildings of the City of Johannesburg have been connected, a target that was said to be three months ahead of schedule.

Overall, the JBNP is worth R1,2-billion, and will deploy between 940 km and 1 000 km of fibre-optic cable in the city over three years, with the aim of linking City of Johannesburg  municipal offices and entities such as schools, utilities, clinics and hospitals, to improve service delivery and communication between the facilities.

The city would also sell capacity to the private sector, as public entities would use less than one third of the capacity of the 1,2 Tb/s network.

Outgoing Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo said that the city was heeding a call by business and other role players to reduce the costs of doing business.

Ericsson and the City of Johannesburg work together as BWired to implement the JBNP project.

“This project will go a long way in stimulating and helping reduce the cost of communication in the city, which will give residents of Joburg, including SMMEs and start ups, the opportunity to manage their communication costs more effectively than before,” said BWired executive director Musa Nkosi.

Ericsson Africa CEO Lars Linden said that the network would give the city broadband services for 25 years. Ericsson would operate the network for the first 12 years.

“The City of Joburg, through this project will be elevated from a world-class African city to a world-class electronic African city,” said Linden.

The City of Johannesburg is said to spend about R500-million on electronic services every year. This project means the city will be buying services from Ericsson, but also has the ability to on-sell services to the private sector at a competitive cost.

The optical network was based on Ericsson’s Multi-protocol label switching solution, which provides increased flexibility and network scalability for the city.

The network will enable the transport of any kind of data, video and voice – including dark fibre, lit fibre, Internet and mobile backhaul, and will even allow for the future implementation of Internet Protocol television services.

The JBNP progress update took place at Westbury Secondary School near Sophiatown in Johannesburg, and applications that could take place over the network were demonstrated.

These included e-learning initiatives linking up different schools, mobile learning, switching on and off electrical appliances remotely using any device such as a phone, sharing of patient information and medical records between facilities, mobile healthcare, and so on.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online
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