R350m Mtunzini fibre link goes live

Added by Editor

25 May 2011

Dark Fibre Africa has switched on a new, R350m fibre system linking Gauteng and Mtunzini on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, saying the new route should put renewed downward pressure on broadband prices.

The route is the first between Johannesburg and the coastal town to operate on “open-access principles”. Dark Fibre Africa believes this could have a significant impact on the cost of connectivity for Internet service providers and telecommunications operators.

Mtunzini is the site of three submarine cable-landing points: Seacom, the East Africa Submarine System (Eassy) and the Sat-3/Safe cables all land there. Dark Fibre Africa will provide access to all three undersea systems.

Until now, backhaul links between the town and SA’s economic hub of Gauteng have only been available from Telkom and state-owned Broadband Infraco.

The new cable system, which has a design capacity of 8Tbit/s, was built in 14 months and follows a route through towns such as eMalahleni (Witbank), Middelburg, Ermelo, Piet Retief, Stanger and Empangeni.

Dark Fibre Africa CEO Gustav Smit says the company has signed up two customers along the route so far, Seacom and Vodacom, and is at an “advanced stage of negotiations” with others.

The system consists of 540 fibre pairs. The link is capable of downloading more than 1 000 high-definition movies per second if each fibre pair is equipped at a conservative 10Gbit/s, the company says.

Meanwhile, Dark Fibre Africa is also working on a new, 160km backhaul fibre link between Cape Town and Yzerfontein on SA’s west coast. Yzerfontein is the landing site for the new West African Cable System, which should be ready for commercial service early next year.