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The City of Cape Town’s Council on Thursday 31 March 2016 approved the installation of fibre-optic cables in the municipality’s sewer and stormwater pipes. Read more below:

This was the final step in the approval process and should silence the many sceptics who believed this was merely a pipe dream. Link Africa, a telecommunication network service provider, can now to proceed with the installation of fibre cables in the municipality’s pipes.

‘I am pleased that this request was approved by Council. This innovative way of installing fibre-optic cabling will have far reaching benefits, not only for the City but more importantly for our residents and businesses. The granting of the long-term rights will contribute to the accelerated roll-out of telecommunications infrastructure that is essential for economic development in Cape Town,’ said City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services and Compliance, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.The draft agreement brokered between the two parties protects the City’s rights as the owner of the infrastructure and will ensure that the City is indemnified in the event of Link Africa’s fibre-optic cabling being damaged or claims arising by third parties.

The granting of these long-term rights (up to 15 years) to Link Africa (Pty) LTD will be in accordance with certain conditions:
· It will be at a market-related rate that will escalate after three years if no Council tariff is set before then

· The agreement will have to comply with any statutory requirements

· Municipal services will be protected at all times and no buildings or permanent structures may be constructed over the municipal services

· In addition, any alterations to municipal services will be carried out at Link Africa’s own cost and the infrastructure is to be made available (on an open access basis) to all electronic communication service licence-holders

The City is committed to playing its role as an enabler in partnership with the private sector to bridge the digital divide. Such partnerships will ensure that the City’s vision of becoming the most digitally inclusive city in Africa is realised.

During the public participation process a concern was raised about a possible increase in blockages in these municipal pipes. However, an investigation by the City’s engineering department and an independent consulting engineer concluded that the risk was within a tolerance level that was acceptable to the City. The proposed agreement ensures that the City will be able to fulfil its obligation to deliver municipal services should a blockage occur.

The installation of fibre-optic cables in pipes will help to reduce the negative impact of open trenching on our built environment and municipal infrastructure such as roads and pavements.

‘As a smart city that embraces innovative technologies, the City is working with many service providers to extend the availability of good telecommunications infrastructure throughout the city. These efforts are supported through our own investment in fibre-optics, which makes backhaul opportunities available to the private sector.

‘The access to associated infrastructure will not only address the availability and the speed of existing services, but will also help to reduce the cost of telecommunication services in Cape Town which will create greater access and opportunities for smaller businesses within this sector,’ said Councillor Limberg.

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