Telkom is reportedly close to securing a deal worth about R750m from government to start the roll-out of broadband infrastructure to several underserviced regions of the country.
According to Bloomberg, there have been extensive discussions between government and Telkom about the plan, which involves deploying network infrastructure in eight districts.
The news wire said it had spoken to two sources with knowledge of the plan.
President Jacob Zuma said in his state of the nation speech on Thursday that government intends fast-tracking the first phase of the roll-out-plan, which will involve connecting 5 000 government facilities over a three-year period.
Zuma said funding to the tune of R740m over a three-year period has been allocated for the project.
However, this figure falls far short of the tens of billions of rand — if not more — that will be required to connect all South Africans under the SA Connect broadband plan published two years ago.
Consultancy BMI-TechKnowledge said last month that if government were to get serious about SA Connect, it would result in one of the largest telecommunications projects ever embarked upon in South Africa’s history.
But already the project has fallen behind, with South Africa set to miss milestone targets set for 2016, and 2020 targets also at risk, it said.
BMI-TechKnowledge has produced a 200-page report examining what will be needed to connect tens of thousands of government facilities, including schools and clinics, to the Internet at broadband speeds.
It has developed two models — one predominantly based on the deployment of fibre infrastructure, and the other relying much more heavily on wireless technologies such as 4G/LTE.
The firm calculated that South Africa would need to more than double the current national fibre-optic footprint, regardless of whether it adopted a fibre-centric or a wireless-centric approach. — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media