In what could prove be a significant development, MTN has now said it supports the concept of open-access networks for the deployment of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure in South Africa.
It said it believes that an open-access business model provides customers and independent Internet service providers who use its FTTH networks with “flexibility and a seamless and distinct customer experience”.
MTN, and rivals Telkom and Vodacom and a number of start-up operators, are keen to extend their businesses into the fixed-line fibre broadband market, challenging Telkom’s dominance (through copper) in the last mile into homes and businesses.
In a statement, MTN said it has “successfully deployed FTTH to the gated community of Monaghan Farm outside Johannesburg” and is now “trenching in a number of suburbs, including Parkmore, Morningside and Lonehill in Johannesburg, where it is deploying FTTH in partnership with the respective residents’ associations”.
“MTN South Africa is committed to an open-access network environment in which it supplies world-class fibre infrastructure for service providers to offer residential customers solutions that provide high-speed Internet connectivity,” said chief technology officer Eben Albertyn in the statement.
A number of other service providers, including Dark Fibre Africa, Vumatel and Link Africa, already deploy their fibre on an open-access basis.
However, different definitions of open access exist. Wikipedia defines it a horizontally layered network architecture where the business model separates the physical access to the network from the delivery of services.
MTN defines an open-access network as a “flexible platform that will allow any ISP with a valid electronic communications service licence, and who has signed an agreement with MTN, to integrate the services they provide to end users. This in turn will enable a range of service providers to provide their customers with connectivity services via the MTN network.”
Albertyn said MTN will have a wholesale commercial product offering for interested home fibre service providers by mid-August.
“The key advantage of an open-access network is that residents will have multiple options, and MTN will be holding discussions with a number of ISPs in order to provide its customers with a wider selection,” he said.
MTN has appointed a team of specialists to focus on the wholesale offering and to begin discussions with interested ISPs. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media