The City of Cape Town’s fibre-optic network has exceeded 800 km in length and has connected over one million residents to the internet along the way. Read more below:
The fibre-optic cables installed by the City now have a combined length of 848 km – long enough to reach all the way to George and back. This includes fibre-optic cabling used to connect the City’s buildings, as well as bus stations, cameras and other infrastructure that is vital for service delivery.
Many of the City’s buildings where residents queue for services feature public Wi-Fi zones. In addition to the City’s libraries, fibre now connects 61 of the City’s clinics and 378 other buildings, including 61 privately owned office buildings.
Over 200 000 unique users connect to the internet every month using one of these Wi-Fi zones. Each person can use up to 100 MB of data each day for free.
Since the City’s public Wi-Fi project started, 1 051 239 people have made use of the Wi-Fi zones to connect to the internet. Much of this public use has been at the City’s 103 libraries, which have provided fixed SmartCape computers since 2002. Now library members can also connect using their own phones or other personal mobile devices at the libraries. The SmartCape Wi-Fi service has also been extended to about 100 other City facilities.
‘We are committed to upping the ante in terms of basic service delivery. The digital age presents enormous opportunities for the development of individuals and communities to improve their quality of life. The City is therefore of the view that digital access is a basic service and no longer a privilege. We are committed to achieving universal access to the internet as part of our service delivery standard. This will ensure that residents are given the opportunity to reap the benefits of the digital age,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services, Councillor Raelene Arendse.Looking ahead to 2021, the City’s broadband project will by then deliver a fully functional, municipal-owned fibre-optic network that will serve the entire metro area. This network will meet the City’s own needs for telecommunications services as well as provide infrastructure for commercial operators and other government entities, especially in areas which are not conventionally attractive to the private sector.
The City has made large investments in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Atlantis, Kuils River and other areas, and we will use this network infrastructure to roll out more Wi-Fi zones.
The City’s Telecommunications Department is committed to connecting 60 new Wi-Fi zones per year through to 2021, which will bring the total number to over 400 zones using more than 1 000 access points.
‘The numbers speak for themselves. I can confidently say that we are getting on with building the most digitally connected city in Africa as we have acknowledged that digital inclusion is a vital component of basic service delivery. As we continue to extend the fibre-optic route, we expect the number of monthly users to grow to over half a million unique users per month, which will have a real social and economic impact.
‘The City’s fibre to privately-owned office buildings is leased by commercial service providers who use it to bring a high-speed broadband service to their business tenants. We predict that the number of commercial connections will increase significantly in the coming years as the City embarks on a project later this year to connect all buildings in the Cape Town central business district,’ said Councillor Arendse.
The impact on broadband availability in the CBD will be huge. Everyone who makes their way to the city centre, either to work or play, will benefit from the Wi-Fi zones that will be established in various public spaces.
Currently the City’s fibre-optic metro area network depends on 27 exchanges or switching facilities. Eventually Cape Town will have 68 such facilities of varying sizes that will be connected by over 1 300 km of cabling.
Apart from the City itself, one of the largest users of these exchanges is a cellphone network operator that uses the City’s network to provide high-speed LTE services (a 4G mobile communications standard) in several areas where it would have otherwise been difficult for the operator to do so. Additionally, this brings in additional revenue for the City.
The City’s current fibre-optic construction project is laying cables to Atlantis via Milnerton and to Somerset West, where a new switching exchange is being built. All of the libraries, clinics and other municipal buildings in these areas will then connect to this cabling which will push up the efficiency of the City’s communications and service delivery management capacity even further.
Other new switching facilities due for completion this year are those at Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha and the fire station in Durbanville.
‘Our commitment to providing services equitably throughout the metro is clear. Every clinic, library and public building will offer a high-speed, fibre-based broadband Wi-Fi service, no matter where it is located,’ added Councillor Arendse.