Fibre prices and offerings are getting better and cheaper for South Africans. Neotel is the latest fibre provider to announce price cuts, following similar announcements by Telkom and Vodacom in recent weeks. It also follows news in recent months of Vumatel’s plans to offer Johannesburg suburbs fibre-to-the-home offerings, starting with the suburb of Parkhurst.
Neotel has announced that it will stop offering its NeoBroadband Fibre service at speeds below 2Mbit/s and will be reducing the cost of its packages by as much as 42%. Existing customers on lower-speed packages will have their speeds increased while their existing costs for the 24-month term of the package will remain unchanged.
At the same time, customers on the current 2Mbit/s service can opt to be upgraded to 5Mbit/s at no extra cost for the remainder of their contract’s term.
NeoBroadband Fibre customers also now have the ability to boost their speeds temporarily. The customer only pays for the higher speeds for the period they require the increase.
With that said, Neotel will continue to offer services below 2Mbit/s for its retail customers.
DFA warns against infrastructure duplication
While it’s great to see fibre being offered to South African businesses and consumers there is the risk that fibre players are duplicating infrastructure rather than cooperating and focusing on getting it to market instead.
Reshaad Sha, chief strategy officer of Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) says South African could waste as much as R25 billion over the next five years if the current trend of multiple companies investing in fibre infrastructure continues.
“Huge sums of money are spent annually by the public and private sectors on building out duplicate infrastructure that will deliver no incremental value to the citizens of South Africa,” Sha says. “Current investment trends indicate that too much capacity is being created in a cross section of urban and peri-urban areas while other areas continue to be starved of connectivity because the basic building blocks haven’t been laid down.”
He says this trend could see South Africa “fail dismally in achieving its target of 100% broadband penetration in support of the national development plan’s 2020 targets”.
The problem, Sha says, stems from South Africa’s failure to build out a “master broadband plan” that will complement SA Connect, the country’s existing national broadband strategy.
“As a matter of priority we must put in place an implementation plan. This plan must not only articulate exactly what needs to be done if we are to achieve our targets, but should articulate what further investments should be made by both public and private sectors in order to support stated national priorities.” This, according to Sha, will prevent further “uncoordinated and wasteful capital expenditure” while improving the odds of government realising its decidedly ambitious connectivity goals.