The department of communications will meet with local and provincial governments in November to finalise guidelines to facilitate the deployment of fibre-optic cables by the private sector in the country’s cities and towns.
Deputy communications minister Obed Bapela says the department is drafting guidelines that will form part of a broadband implementation plan that will give direction to municipal and provincial government about helping companies build and share infrastructure.
Bapela says the department will invite private-sector players to attend a second session of the meeting. The date for the session hasn’t yet been finalised, but it will happen in November and communications minister Roy Padayachie will announce a firm date soon.
Industry players, including fibre-optic industry body FTTH Council Africa, have been lobbying hard for government to make it easier to secure rights of way to build fibre in metropolitan streets and between cities.
Bapela says municipalities are “sick of these telecoms people because they don’t want to co-share” in trenches. “We are going to discuss those elements of co-sharing, what they are how they can be governed in a particular way.”
He says some municipalities such as Middelburg in Mpumalanga have placed a blanket ban on telecoms operators digging up streets. This is in spite of the fact that cable systems run through the town, connecting Gauteng with undersea cable systems on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.
“It’s about creating awareness for municipalities… They need to develop a system that responds to ‘wayleave’ applications sooner,” Bapela says. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral