As one of the few companies in the world with specialised direct laying equipment for installing national backbones of optical fibre cables, Raubex Infra has recently completed large-scale projects around Africa.
According to Danie Marais, operations director of Raubex Infra’s telecommunications division, the company is equally at home with smaller neighbourhood projects where the ‘last mile’ of fibre connectivity is rolled out to households.
“Apart from our work in South Africa, our recent digital backbone projects have included contracts in countries like in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” says Marais. “We pre-rip the ground in case of large rocks, and then install the ducting 1,2 metres deep using a bulldozer fitted with a specialised ripper and cable plough.”
This allows the cable laying process to be conducted without creating open trenches; a time saving strategy that also improves safety and general efficiency.
“We can cover up to 9 km per day with these machines and our skilled teams ensuring a quick and cost effective outcome over long distances,” says Marais. “We also conduct duct integrity testing to ensure that the underground ducts are correctly installed.”
The company’s work in Zambia, for instance, has included the installation of over 1,000 km of backbone network across the country, as well as smaller projects such as laying fibre cable in the Chingola-Solwezi region in north-western Zambia.
Using a very different modus operandi, the division is currently rolling out optical fibre to homes in Bloemfontein’s neighbourhoods of Universitas and Waverley. Using dedicated trenching equipment, a narrow slot is created for the ducting. Known as micro trenching, this minimises the impact on the roadway itself. A shallow gulley is then dug to channel the optical fibre from the road to the edge of the homeowners’ property.
“Our expertise allows us to conduct every aspect of work relating to fibre installation,” he says, “from network builds, installation, termination and testing – right through to maintenance.”
The company also has a track record in horizontal drilling, which has the advantage of low environmental impact as the method drills in a predetermined shallow arc driven from a surface-launched drilling rig.