Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband looks set to change the face of internet access in South Africa. One company leading the trend is Vumatel, an FTTH start-up aiming at rolling out “fibrehoods” in 42 suburbs throughout South Africa, starting with Parkhurst as their pilot rollout. Director of Vumatel Giorgio Iovino tells us more.

What are fibrehoods?

These are projects working with the community to rollout fibre to a suburb. To do this, we trench the pavements and then connect all the homes to our network via a fibre box on their boundary wall. Residents then have the choice to sign up for a service where we install the fibre into their home.

How do you work with Internet Service Providers (ISPs)?

We offer the fibre on an open access basis, meaning we build and maintain the fibre network and then make it available to various service providers who supply services to the end consumer.

What has the response been like been from ISPs?

Extremely positive. I think they’re particularly impressed by the quality of the network. The speeds are guaranteed, and it’s very easy for them to get a customer connected.

What is your rollout schedule for 2015 in Gauteng?

We’ve recently completed Parkhurst, Parktown North and Greenside. Next on our list are apartment blocks in Killarney & Riviera, Saxonwold and Parkwood, with Blairgowrie, Victory Park and Linden towards the end of the year. We aim to reach 100,000 homes in the next two years.

How is Telkom responding to fibre broadband as a new entrant to the market?

There is no doubt we’ve agitated this market. In his recent annual results briefing, Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko makes specific mention of us by acknowledging our presence and how they need to compete.

With over 50% of residents already having signed up for a fibre internet connection in South Africa via an ISP in Parkhurst, there’s no doubt that the demand for this kind of broadband is huge. Ultimately, this is a great thing not only for South African consumers, but for the country as a whole.

We aim to reach 100,000 homes in the next two years.

Words: Catherine Black

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