Cape Town’s connectivity grows

The city of Cape Town is expanding its fibre-optic network in the central business district. Picture.Getty Images

THE city of Cape Town has announced that its project to expand the fibre-optic footprint in the CBD would fast-track communication in the digital world besides creating faster, more secure and efficient broadband access.

The announcement comes as the city seeks to provide more effective services to businesses. It said the CBD Connect Pilot Project was part of its digital city strategy, which aimed to put digital technology to work in order to support and improve service delivery, employment as well as the local economy.

The project was also aligned with the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) as it would contribute towards making Cape Town a safer city, would promote better management of the urban environment within the CBD and would improve economic opportunities within the CBD.

The city’s mayoral committee member for corporate services, councillor Raelene Arendse, said: “The Connect Pilot Project speaks to the key priorities of the city of Cape Town’s organisational development and transformation plan as it will ensure that the city works smarter by leveraging technology for progress and efficient service delivery. “It is also about innovation and strengthening Cape Town as a forward-looking competitive business city that can compete globally.”

The project entailed piloting the expansion of a city-owned, open-access fibre-optic network within the city CBD. It would provide reliable broadband that would have the benefits of affordable open-access high-speed fibre connections to every building in the CBD, expanding economic opportunities to business and internet service providers.

Business would benefit from the decreased time of service provisioning and they would have the opportunity to migrate between internet service providers. Another benefit was that it would limit the future need for further trenching in this difficult area and enable free public Wi-Fi in the CBD. Arendse said to limit the disruption during the implementation phase, micro-trenching was used.

“The pilot area will be used as a confined urban living laboratory for the city to design and test smart device solutions such as traffic light systems, water and electricity meter management systems, CCTV camera and Wi-Fi/Radio technology systems,” she said. “One of the biggest advantages of fibre-optic broadband is super-fast data transfer speeds for meeting business internet needs. “The digital environment is fast moving and dynamic and as a world-class city we should be able to keep developing and expanding broadband connectivity as it’s an investment in improved communication and business growth.’’

Cape Town metro area network already consisted of 848km of fibre optic cables and 25 switching facilities. Fibre-optic cables and microwave links are used to connect 346 city buildings at speeds of up to 1Gbps. The network infrastructure was operated on “open-access” principles and assisted telecommunications service providers to extend the reach of their own networks to provide broadband services to their customers.

The city offers related services such as co-location of equipment in switching centres and cross-connecting between the city’s network infrastructure and the clients’ network infrastructure. The pilot project was in the four CBD blocks surrounded by Loop, Long, Church, Longmarket, Burg and Wale streets.

Construction work started in November last year and was scheduled to be completed by April. “The pilot project will be used to monitor network operational results and various facets of the network to be able to establish best practice programmes,” Arendse said.

“This information will be used to determine the city’s technology rollout strategy for future rollouts in other CBD areas across the city.”