South Africa: Broadband Infraco Granted I-ECNS Licence

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Broadband Infrastructure Company (Broadband Infraco), the state-owned provider of wholesale backbone transmission services, was granted an individual electronic communications network services (‘I-ECNS’) licence by the regulator ICASA on 19 October 2009. With the award of the ECNS licence, Broadband Infraco intends to sell high capacity long distance transmission services to licensed fixed and mobile network operators, internet service providers and other value added network service providers. Licenced operators can buy multiple capacity increments of STM-1 (155.52 Mbps) up to STM-64 (9.953 Gbps).

In its 2009 Annual Report, Broadband Infraco had one customer, second national operator Neotel (Pty) Limited, in accordance with the Right of Use and Operate Agreement between Broadband Infraco and Neotel, which has been in effect since 1 December 2007. Now that Broadband Infraco has obtained the necessary operating licences, it plans to adopt a wholesale, carrier-of-carriers business model, consistent with its mandate.

Broadband Infraco’s network comprises two main elements. The first is its national long distance fibre optic network, originally based on the fibre assets deployed by Eskom on power transmission lines and Transet along railway infrastructure. By March 2009, this network comprised of 11,765-km, with cross-border interconnects to Botswana and Mozambique completed, and interconnects with Namibia and Zimbabwe underway (see also:  South Africa: Broadband Infraco’s National Fibre Backbone Reaches 11,765-km).

The second is an international marine cable network, comprising a submarine cable to be deployed between South Africa and the UK. Broadband Infraco participated in the negotiations for the Africa West Coast Cable (AWCC) project, but a construction and maintenance agreement (C&MA) was not concluded as the parties could not reach consensus on various commercial issues. In September 2008, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MTN, Vodacom, Neotel and Telkom to jointly develop a new submarine cable project called the West Africa Cable System (WACS). The amount that Broadband Infraco will invest in WACS will result in the organisation acquiring a 14% stake in the total capacity of the system.

Source: Broadband Infraco

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