MTN has lifted the lid on plans to build fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks in South Africa, potentially sparking a race among operators to connect upmarket suburbs with next-generation broadband.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, the operator said it has demonstrated an FTTH offering to residents of Monaghan Farm, a gated community 30km north of Johannesburg. It claimed that the “commercial delivery of FTTH capable of 100Mbit/s is a first in Africa”.
MTN intends launching FTTH services on 1 June, it said in the statement. “MTN is currently rolling out aggressive deployment to high-density urban areas, such as high-end gated communities, boomed-off suburbs and high-rise buildings.”
Advanced discussions are underway with several additional residential sites, it said. “The roll-out is a demand-driven extension of the company’s already fast-expanding fibre connectivity backbone, utilising gigabit passive optical network or GPON technology to business parks and residential estates in all major cities.”
In the same statement, MTN South Africa chief technology officer Eben Albertyn said: “We are massively excited by the momentum that our pre-launch has already created.”
Homes at Monagham Farm are expected to be connected to fibre in mid-May, MTN said. In excess of 60% of the residents have signed up for the service. Offers vary based on desired Internet speed, ranging from 10Mbit/s to 100Mbit/s. “Speed trials at the pre-launch event clocked up to 150,2Mbit/s, while earlier this year MTN demonstrated lab trials of up to 1Gbit/s on their fibre network,” the company said.
“Pricing is currently only available to residents and is negotiated on a case by case basis, dependent on the amount of infrastructure and civil engineering required for each estate,” it added.
“MTN’s FTTH programme will be largely demand-driven, with homeowner associations and members of the public invited to express their interest by contacting the company directly on email@example.com.”
MTN’s announcement comes hot on the heels of and in fact may have been prompted by a statement from rival Vodacom, which said it was “too early” to provide “any concrete details” on its FTTH plans. However, Vodacom said in the statement e-mailed to TechCentral: “We’re actively rolling out fibre in business parks. We’re getting ready to do the same in gated communities and are currently building the fibre backbones to make this possible.” — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media