R1bn plan to keep Cape Town connected

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broadband oct 25 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Neotel has been laying pipes around the CBD to take their data cables for the new telephone and internet providers. Picture: Matthew Jordaan

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s R1 billion high-speed internet plan aims to revolutionise schools, clinics and the lives of thousands of citizens through a broadband network it intends rolling out in the next 10 years.

The system will:

l Give doctors at hospitals and clinics speedier access to specialist advice from other facilities.

l Allow teachers access to experts in various fields of study and seamlessly share this with other schools on the network.

l Give internet access to residents in poorer areas.

l Allow residents to submit building plans online.

Parts of the city’s fibre optic cable will be used by private internet providers. It’s hoped this will bring down Cape Town’s connection costs.

This year broadband will be rolled out to city-owned buildings in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Ndabeni and the southern suburbs. The city has confirmed that Telkom has requested to use part of the network.

Since the city started installing broadband on its own lines, it has saved R25 million on its communication costs. At one point the city had an annual bill of more than R100m.

Mayor Patricia de Lille and mayoral committee member for corporate services Demetri Qually briefed the media on the city’s plans on Wednesday.

The complete network will take around 10 years to install and cost more than R1bn.

The Western Cape government is partly funding the project.

The city and the US Development and Trade Agency are currently busy with a feasibility study in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain to look at options for wireless internet in those areas.

This would include investigating pricing structures for the service there.

Qually said the idea would be to start there because those areas did not have easy internet access.

“We can go in there and set up transmitters throughout the area and it’s a quick way people can stay connected.”

Extra capacity on the network can then be used by internet providers and telecommunications companies.

“This will stimulate competition in the telecommunications market and thereby helping reduce costs to the end user,” said De Lille.

De Lille ruled out the possibility of the city stepping into that market.

“We have to build a digital and inclusive city. And that is where our role ends.” - Cape Argus

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