Usually installing fibre optic infrastructure in suburbia means digging up streets and pavements, but Johannesburg-based company Fibrehoods has taken a different approach to bringing high-speed internet to Johannesburg’s suburbs: aerial fibre.
“We’re building an aerial fibre network on streetlights and putting up some of our own poles where required. Aerial deployment provides various advantages in both costs and speed of deployment” Alon Hendel, director of Fibrehoods, explains.
“Fibrehoods a joint venture between the Waterfall Investment Company (WIC) – the owner of Waterfall Estate and RMBD Holdings – and a private company with various interests, including a stake in private security provider CSS Tactical,” Hendel says. WIC was heavily involved in connecting 3 500 homes in the Waterfall Estate to fibre.
The vision of Fibrehoods is to provide gated-community benefits to existing suburbs by providing both fibre to the home (FTTH) and enhanced security (in the form of public-space surveillance cameras) to the residents of various Johannesburg suburbs by working in partnership with the dominant local security provider as well as the residents’ association.
In its initial rollout Fibrehoods is collaborating with CSS Tactical, which in partnership with the various resident associations will be installing security cameras throughout the suburbs. CSS Tactical will be a tenant on the network, renting use of the infrastructure, much like the Internet Service Providers that will sell data services over the fibre.
The first connected Fibrehoods suburbs will be Craighall, Craighall Park, Winston Ridge, Atholl, Inanda, Illovo and Elton Hill. Hendel says the first fibre connections should be live in March this year. He adds that the suburb of Dunkeld will be added to the network shortly thereafter.
Fibrehoods is adopting the same sort of open-access model as the one used by Vumatel in its FTTH rollout in Parkhurst whereby numerous ISPs will be able to sell data on the network. Hendel says discussions are underway with a number of ISPs but is reluctant to go into specifics until the deals are concluded.
Regarding pricing, Hendel says Fibrehoods expects to be able to offer cheaper connectivity than the options on offer in Parkhurst. “Considering the comparative speed of deployment aerial fibre allows and the lower installation costs associated with it we’re confident this will result in significantly lower prices.”
When it comes to expanding its services to other areas, Hendel says rollout “will be driven by residents’ associations”. Strong community support, he says, makes the process far easier. “Atholl and Craighall, for example, have very strong resident associations.”
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