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JOHANNESBURG - A plan to merge two of South Africa’s state-owned telecommunication firms into a single broadband network company will be reviewed by the cabinet in December, a senior government official told lawmakers yesterday. 

The government hopes to combine the fibre network and high-speed bandwidth capacity of Broadband Infraco with Sentech’s satellite capability, boosting connections to remote areas as it aims to lift mobile broadband coverage to 80% of the population by 2019. 

“We don’t want a top-heavy company, but a company that has sharp capacity to aggregate what exists in South Africa so we don’t duplicate,” said Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services director-general Robert Nkuna. 

He told a parliamentary committee the law would need to be amended to allow for the establishment of a National Broadband Network Co (NBN) by about 2020. He said it would be able to strike access agreements with SOEs and eventually private firms