Here’s South Africa’s version of technological innovation.
Gary Williams Head of Pre-Sales Engineering explains, “Even though, the most significant challenge for Mobile Operators in South Africa is the need to formalize the national broadband policy to free up the much-needed spectrum 800MHz and 2.6GHz ranges for LTE/4G. Cellular Operators are needing to bolster their networks capacity and better use of existing spectrum resources. Whether it be 3G or 4G due to the amount of Cellular devise needing bandwidth to connect to a network.
Cell towers are becoming grossly over contended all sharing the same available bandwidth.
Furthermore, “To do this, Cellular operators are looking to deploy lots and lots of small cells (picocells and microcells) in key locations within high traffic built up areas. These small cells work similar to the Wi-Fi routers that we use in our homes, however, these operate within the 3G/4G LTE licenced spectrum with current reach distances covering between 10-to-200 meters. The biggest challenges in deploying small cells for the cellular operator… is figuring out how to cost-effectively backhaul the LTE traffic from numerous small cell sites over fibre? Even though, you can backhaul between Small Cells over Radio… with Fibre, the bandwidth is much greater!!”
Being that Metrofibre saturates high traffic (built-up) business areas with Access Fibre, meaning that we place a break-out point between every business premise we pass on the street/route with MEF compliant Carrier Ethernet service connections.”
The Metrofibre network is ideally situated to service this small cell backhaul Mobile requirement cost effectively. Also, the Metrofibre’s Access fibre network has more than 22 Service provider partners already sharing it!
On when and why the business came into being, Williams had this to say, “We started the business back in April 2010, realizing the need in South Africa to connect South Africa’s business’s to a world class highly-managed Carrier Ethernet “Open Access Fibre network. To do this we needed to join the MEF (that we did, before we even had fibre in the ground) and built our Open Access Carrier Ethernet network services based on the MEF global standards and compliances. It’s very important to build a network base on standards…if you don’t it’s very difficult to integrate with others!! We now integrate and have over 22 Service Provider Partners all using our Carrier Compliant Access fibre network!
While Malcolm Kirby, CEO added, “With regards to MFN, we have been working very closely with our Service Provider partners to ensure that we roll out our Fibre Access Infrastructure into their areas of demand. To date we have completely saturated four commercial areas with access networks and have established a comprehensive presence in an additional fourteen commercial areas. As we grow, with demand from our partners our infrastructure will continue growing in these targeted areas. Currently it is all about Gauteng, however we have just concluded trials, with BBI, on 1Gbps long-haul links between Jo’burg, Durban and Cape Town. This service is planned to go live and will be on offer to our partners early in the new year.
On the way forward Kirby shared, “Durban and Cape Town are becoming areas of priority and our partners are requesting that we open up these areas as soon as possible. Our planning team is assessing the viability of certain areas in these regions and we expect to start deploying fibre by the 2nd quarter of 2013. in Gauteng, as our footprint grows in partnership with our partners, we will also start preparing for the Small Cell Backhaul solutions which we expect to start taking off, especially in the commercial areas where we have an established presence. We also see a growing demand for Fibre Channel connections, so these services will also come on line early in 2013.
Their two biggest challenges is speed of deployment and customer education.
“With regards to deployment, we have regulatory issues that are not standardised so each area or region has its own specific approval requirements which tends to delay the process. from a customer point of view, customers are not sure what to expect from the “new” access technology and are sometimes hesitant to move from their current service, albeit inferior. We are however targeting our marketing effort to the end user, as well as to our partners the Service Providers and in many areas have seen a surge in take up, especially with the larger bandwidth users.
On the success stories and achievements to date Williams added, “Within only 2 years… our Gauteng MFN Carrier Ethernet Access network covers more than 1200 potential business premises, with over 22 Service provider partners already sharing it! We have also successfully tested a MEF complaint Carrier Ethernet Core Network between Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg with one of our partners.