Techcentral.co.za – Tech Central
The company previously known as i3 Africa is to begin building its trial fibre network in Umhlanga in the next few months and is now eyeing other cities for expansion. By Duncan McLeod.
Fledgling fibre-to-the-home infrastructure provider LinkAfrica Group, formerly known as i3 Africa, is finally ready to begin its trial network in Umhlanga, north of Durban, and is also gearing up to begin rolling out fibre in Pretoria and Cape Town.
In March 2011, TechCentral revealed the company’s plans to use the municipal sewerage and water networks in SA’s main urban centres to build the fibre-optic network, which would offer access speeds of between 100Mbit/s and 1Gbit/s. Acting CEO Cornelis Groesbeek says it has taken longer than expected to get the project off the ground because of difficulties in obtaining permissions from residents, businesses and government.
But plans to build a pilot network in Umhlanga Ridge and the adjacent suburb of Somerset Park are now forging ahead, with services expected to be available in the next few months. If the pilot project works as expected, LinkAfrica plans to seek the funding it needs to extend the network to other parts of the country.
LinkAfrica, which is backed by the National Empowerment Fund (it holds 30% of the equity), will build the fibre network to standalone homes, housing estates, office parks and even a shopping centre that straddle the M41 motorway in the upmarket Durban suburb.