MTN reveals fibre-to-the-home plans

MTN has lifted the lid on plans to build fibre-to-the-home broadband in South Africa, possibly signalling the start of a race among operators to offer gated communities and upmarket suburbs next-generation broadband speeds.

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MTN has lifted the lid on plans to build fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks in South Africa, potentially sparking a race among operators to connect upmarket suburbs with next-generation broadband.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, the operator said it has demonstrated an FTTH offering to residents of Monaghan Farm, a gated community 30km north of Johannesburg. It claimed that the “commercial delivery of FTTH capable of 100Mbit/s is a first in Africa”.

MTN intends launching FTTH services on 1 June, it said in the statement. “MTN is currently rolling out aggressive deployment to high-density urban areas, such as high-end gated communities, boomed-off suburbs and high-rise buildings.”

Advanced discussions are underway with several additional residential sites, it said. “The roll-out is a demand-driven extension of the company’s already fast-expanding fibre connectivity backbone, utilising gigabit passive optical network or GPON technology to business parks and residential estates in all major cities.”

In the same statement, MTN South Africa chief technology officer Eben Albertyn said: “We are massively excited by the momentum that our pre-launch has already created.”

Homes at Monagham Farm are expected to be connected to fibre in mid-May, MTN said. In excess of 60% of the residents have signed up for the service. Offers vary based on desired Internet speed, ranging from 10Mbit/s to 100Mbit/s. “Speed trials at the pre-launch event clocked up to 150,2Mbit/s, while earlier this year MTN demonstrated lab trials of up to 1Gbit/s on their fibre network,” the company said.

“Pricing is currently only available to residents and is negotiated on a case by case basis, dependent on the amount of infrastructure and civil engineering required for each estate,” it added.

“MTN’s FTTH programme will be largely demand-driven, with homeowner associations and members of the public invited to express their interest by contacting the company directly on broadband@mtn.co.za.”

MTN’s announcement comes hot on the heels of and in fact may have been prompted by a statement from rival Vodacom, which said it was “too early” to provide “any concrete details” on its FTTH plans. However, Vodacom said in the statement e-mailed to TechCentral: “We’re actively rolling out fibre in business parks. We’re getting ready to do the same in gated communities and are currently building the fibre backbones to make this possible.”  — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media

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  • kian

    Pricing pricing soon please

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Awesome news! Have emailed them and initiated my harassment campaign :)

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Over in the mybb forums I saw discussion on the Vodacom FTTH thread, and a Vodacom employee gave the first hint I’ve seen at a price; he said for 100 connected homes in an area, pricing would be “in the 10Mb/s copper range” for a FTTH link of “higher speeds and better latency”.

    Averaging all-in costs from Afrihost (R799), Webafrica (R899) and Telkom (R999) we come to a figure in the R900 range. Only a ballpark figure, but at least we can start making educated guesses. I think that’s a very good place to start, it’ll only come down as time goes on.

  • kian

    Fingers crossed we really need this development

  • Ofentse Letsholo

    but really now, 10mbps in 2014???.. and whats worse is that it will be less than that number(that we do know). It would be nice if we don’t get under 85mbps, that’s all “poor Africa” asks for, learn from Asian ISPs.

  • Davebee

    The squeaky wheels in the ‘burbs are getting some oil in this matter at long last!
    About bloody time too. Now when are those Slapgats up at Telkom Towers going to put some effort into connecting us all to the 21st century and finally cut ties to Mr. Samuel Morse’s 200 year old communications technology via slow, vulnerable and ancient copper wires?

  • Taryn De Bruin

    It looks like you’ll be able to get 100mbps. The offerings have to cater for all residents’ requirements and not everyone needs or wants to pay for 100mbps.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Not really… 100mbit is still fairly rare around the world. Asia might be an exception, but in the western world, 15-20mbps is entry level FTTH, 50mbps+ is great and 100mbps+ is still something a bit special. If we launch with 100mbps services, we’ll be the envy of people in many 1st world countries; eg. 20mbit down / 2mbit up FTTH in Switzerland is R840, 50mbit down / 5mbit up FTTH is R1400 – I’d be more than happy if we hit that target.

    Also notable is that many Asian FTTH solutions are fast locally, but severely throttled internationally (Akamai benchmarks Japan as 10mbit average speed). Not to say they aren’t cheap and awesome, but one has to be careful when comparing to the rest of the world so we don’t get unrealistic expectations.

    For a “poor Africa” benchmark, Kenya’s Zuku FTTH is 1mbit (!!) entry level, 20mbit fastest speed – hopefully we’ll leapfrog them comfortably, that’s rather laughable, and not the direction we must take FTTH in ZA.

  • Ofentse Letsholo

    i guess im just dreaming and hoping to see things change in a massive way… we really need insane stable internet speeds and once we get used to them it will be hard to go back even for those who don’t need such speeds.

  • RegsWatcher

    About time too! That makes MTN, Vodacom, FibreSuburb, Link Africa (was i3 Africa) and Posix as contenders so far. Anyone know of anyone else?

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