FTTH Council Africa, an industry body representing companies in the fibre infrastructure business in SA, has welcomed news that government will meet with local and provincial governments in November to finalise guidelines to facilitate the deployment of fibre-optic cables by the private sector.
Industry players have expressed growing frustration at the red tape involved in building fibre infrastructure, from getting environmental approvals to planning permission.
“We have always said that one of our main concerns is that local authorities are not geared to handle the number of applications for ‘wayleaves’ they receive on a daily basis,” says FTTH Council Africa CEO Juanita Clark. “There are also a lack of processes and inconsistency in dealing with different authorities.”
Clark says the council’s technical committee for civils infrastructure is drafting a code of practice for the construction of fixed-line infrastructure. This document will be made available to all authorities that want to utilise it as a framework for the construction of fibre networks.
“We believe that we may soon see a regulated environment for the deployment of infrastructure,” Clark says, adding that industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA, has been engaged proactively with the council in discussing the industry’s concerns.
“We will welcome any document that provides clear guidelines regarding infrastructure sharing and we are open to supporting government as this is an important topic that will address the cost and speed at which we will see companies deploying infrastructure,” she says.
The council is drafting a “lobby paper” to government addressing the issues affecting the sector. “This industry can and will create jobs if we can address the issues that are prohibitive to the deployment of infrastructure,” Clark says. “We are on a fact-finding mission now in terms of the backlog of ‘wayleaves’ since there are potential jobs that cannot be created given that right-of-way approvals have not been issued.” — Staff reporter, TechCentral