Fibre in small towns

Bradley Bekker Evotel

February 1, 2021

Connecting people to the Net faster

Residents in smaller towns across South Africa are longing for faster internet connections, such as those the affluent major metropoles are experiencing. The need for a reliable and fast fibre network infrastructure is not simply because of keeping up with the Jones’, but because of what a fibre network can offer them – personally and business-wise.

“If residents in smaller towns still had to deal with modem dial-up connections and the now almost feared sound that accompanied it, where would they be? They won’t only be lagging behind, but lagging behind by miles,” says Bradley Bekker, head of sales at Evotel.

“Fibre is the fastest way of connecting people to the internet and with a look to the future could easily be considered a basic necessity. The way the world is advancing with technologies permeating almost every aspect of life, from farming to education, a proper, fast and reliable internet connection is a must for growth and development,” Bekker adds.

The company has heard the call of small-town residents and together with municipalities and the communities stepped up to build fibre to the home (FTTH) networks in places such as Krugersdorp and currently Emalahleni (Witbank), providing the needs of residents and the municipalities themselves. The fibre network provides faster upload and download speeds that are important for any business-related work and the connection to multiple platforms are also made easier, including banking and payment services – making life simply more convenient.

The aerial fibre network installations are built on existing municipal infrastructure to quicken the roll-out whilst adding a further benefit of being easily serviced and maintained. “Residents won’t have to wait days and weeks for cables to be fixed with lengthy approval processes and while urgent waylays are sought for trenching. With the aerial FTTH solution, everything is above-ground and there is no need to dig up the streets.”  

Demand in Krugersdorp for fibre connections has increased such that Evotel is busy with extensions to the network and rolling out infrastructure to three added areas, Wentworth Park, Mindalore and Breaunanda, in the Krugersdorp municipality. The growth and development is such, says Bekker, that the estimation is for the company to connect close to 60 000 residences by the end of the year during soon to start projects.

Free fibre for schools

In line with Evotel’s promise of providing uncompromised services, Bekker says: “We have undertaken to provide free internet connections to all the schools that fall under the areas of our network installations. These currently comprise 42 schools across our entire coverage area and include primary schools, high schools, both public and private institutions.”

It is based on the same principle of laying fibre to build smart cities, but now only for schools and to establish ‘smart-schools’ without the schools needing to expense any money for the infrastructure. “It’s one our ways to give back to the community,” he adds.

The main focus of this initiative is to provide learners with the ability to be successful, seeing that they are our future. “We want them to be successful, as they are the leaders of tomorrow.” The schools will have the choice of whichever internet service provider (ISP) they want to use, as the Evotel infrastructure is an open-access network and the company does not supply any data services.

Bekker describes it as the school providing the vehicle while Evotel supplies the fast high-tech highway.

The fibre connectivity is not solely for learners, but also for teachers and administrative staff to assist in running an institution with the latest fibre technology available.

“We are providing a 2Mbps line, up to 1Gbps line if there is a point-of-presence (PoP) connection close by. The cost of installation would normally be in the region of R2 100 once-off and then approximately R2 000 per month for the running and leasing of the fibre line, saving schools R24 000 per year that can be invested otherwise. We are sponsoring this to the schools to ensure the success of our youth’s education and a more advanced schooling environment where tablets and PCs can be implemented for learning,” Bekker explains.   

The faster, the better

In this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for increased bandwidth has become apparent. People are forced to work from home to decrease physical contact and following social distancing regulations to curb the spread of the virus. However, business could not simply stop and people down tools.

“With people sequestered at home due to the virus, their remote or off-site working saw the need of increased bandwidth speeds to incorporate the change and traffic on their networks to decrease interruptions and ensure a more seamless transition. We, therefore, decided to automatically up the line speeds of our customers, without additional charges, to the next available speed as a gesture of goodwill, during hard times,” says Bekker.

For example, customers with 10Mbps lines were upgraded to 20Mbps, 20Mbps to 50Mbps and so on without any additional costs for the increased line speed.

The line speeds were increased for two months from 1 April 2020 till the end of June 2020. Evotel has however extended this goodwill with another month, to only end at the end of July 2020.

Concludes Bekker: “We are simply keeping to our promise of providing people with a fast and reliable fibre network connection that will suit their needs.”

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