BT coy over big SA network plans - TechCentral

BT coy over big SA network plans

Keith Matthews

BT Group is playing coy over its plans to invest significant capital in fibre-optic network infrastructure in SA, but TechCentral understands an announcement about its plans is imminent.

Company executives skirted the issue at a press conference on Tuesday at which BT announced it had invested in a facility at the Sat-3 cable landing station at Melkbosstrand, becoming the third company after Telkom and Neotel to land international bandwidth on the submarine system linking SA with Europe along Africa’s west coast.

The international network traffic routing facility is being linked to Teraco’s data centre in Cape Town, through which operators, Internet service providers and BT’s corporate customers in SA will be able to connect directly on BT’s global networks.

Connectivity from Melkbosstrand to Cape Town is being provided by Dark Fibre Africa.

TechCentral understands the Sat-3 investment is the first leg of plans by BT, formerly known as British Telecom, to ramp up its investment in network infrastructure in SA.

Keith Matthews, BT Global Services GM for sub-Saharan Africa, says the company is keen to make better use of its network infrastructure and services licences awarded to it by the Independent Communications Authority of SA.

Matthews says the Sat-3 investment represents “the first step to see how we can better deliver services” in SA. “We will be watching the market to see how it evolves and getting the right network at the right price is always important,” he says.

Asked whether BT is in talks with FibreCo — the joint venture between Cell C, Dimension Data and Convergence Partners — to build a national fibre-optic network, Matthews says: “At this stage we don’t have any announcements we can make along those lines.”

Last month, Steve Kelly, GM for BT Global Telecom Markets in Asia-Pacific, North America, the Middle East and Africa, hinted strongly that the company was “close to” investing in fibre projects in Africa, and in “SA in particular”, as demand for high-capacity infrastructure in the region exploded.  — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral

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