MTN SA and Neotel today (15 January) signed a historic joint agreement to co-build the planned national long-distance fibre optic network. The network will cover a distance of 5 000km, connecting the major centres across South Africa.
“This agreement with Neotel marks the biggest collaboration in the South African telecommunications industry, and is a defining moment in the history of the country,” says Tim Lowry, MD of MTN SA and VP: SEA Region of the MTN Group.
“The collaboration of these two companies signifies a bold step towards convergence in the South African telecommunications space,” says Ajay Pandey, CEO and MD of Neotel. “We have seen so many exciting developments in the industry since late last year, and believe that this partnership is a significant milestone as we redefine the telecommunications landscape.”
The first route of the national fibre network will extend from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal, incorporating Pietermaritzburg and Durban. Construction of the first leg is expected to commence in the first week of March 2009 with a completion date scheduled before the FIFA World Cup 2010.
The optic fibre network will provide both companies with almost infinite bandwidth capacity to carry more information (voice and data) at higher speeds over greater distances using far less power than copper cables.
“Bringing a partner or partners on board to deploy the optic fibre network was integral to MTN’s self-provisioning plans from the start. By sharing the costs and infrastructure with Neotel in rolling out this ambitious project, MTN is benefiting through the substantial Opex cost savings we will achieve,” says Lowry.
Ajay Pandey, CEO and MD of Neotel says, “One of our core objectives has always been to bring down the cost of communications in South Africa – this can only truly be achieved once we completely self-provision.”
Lowry concurs, stating that it has become imperative for MTN to build its own network if the company is to maintain its current competitive data offering.