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Cape Metro Fibre Network project ‘future proof for decades’

The progressive approach taken to rolling out the Western Cape’s biggest metro fibre network means the network will cope with growing demand and more advanced active technology for the next 20 years says Clive Maasch, General Manager of Tank Industries.

Roll-out of the Western Cape’s multi-million rand metro fibre network is proceeding well. With over 789km of fibre optic cable installed to date, offices and services have been connected to the metro network, Wi-Fi hotspots have been installed and extensive dark fibre networking is now in place in major urban centres and areas that previously had no broadband infrastructure. Progress is also being made in rolling out FTTX connections to large offices and residential areas.

Lauding the progress, Tank Industries, supplier of the metro fibre network’s OSP, FTTX connectors, distribution boxes and other accessories since 2007, believes the fibre project is one of the most advanced in the country on a number of fronts: “The concept as a whole was progressive, since it debuted a new approach by a South African metro to combining service delivery and revenue generation.

By leasing space on its dark fibre network to other service providers, the network owner positioned itself to generate revenue, reduce administration time and disruptions should new service providers wish to roll out network services, and it also supported advanced service delivery by the authorities,” he notes.

However, the forward thinking did not stop there. “In addition, in what was a fairly bold move for its time in 2007, the network comprises blown fibre optic (BFO) instead of conventional fibre. Although BFO in ducts is now the norm, back then it was very progressive and they were among the first to deploy this in a metro fibre network.”

Because the network was quite unique for a metro, Tank Industries was initially contracted to develop the world class, customised core closures for the network. More recently, as the roll-out continues and starts reaching end users, Tank Industries designed and started supplying custom fibre optic distribution panels for multi-story buildings and larger institutions, along with small FTTX enclosures for termination to smaller buildings.

Maasch explains that in a network of this nature, longevity and performance are crucial – the network must not degrade and must support active component upgrades for the next 15 to 20 years, to ensure acceptable return on the public sector spend. “While fibre optic cable does not degrade, poor quality connectivity and cable accessories do. This is why we developed the best in class cable accessories for the network, to ensure the entire system is capable of supporting at least two or three active equipment upgrades as new broadband technology emerges in the next two decades,” he says.

With the metro fibre project already reported to be delivering service delivery improvements and cost savings, Maasch says it’s clear the project is a highly successful one, and clearly a game changer. “The whole concept is very clever – it’s a win-win for the city, service providers, local business and citizens. And because best in class technology and excellence in engineering and project management has been harnessed, the network will support service delivery and economic growth in the metro for decades to come,” he says.


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