Fibre has become the buzzword when it comes to the internet over the past couple of years. It has become the fastest and most recognised way to connect to the World Wide Web and is the most affordable for the speed and reliability that it offers.
Krugersdorp, like many other non-metropoles and smaller provincial towns across the country, was left longing for the latest technologies and most advanced internet infrastructure, like the big cities had. Residents of Krugersdorp felt they also deserved to be noticed and allowed the same internet speeds that those in the cities were becoming accustomed to. Many smaller towns still feel this way.
Open-access, fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network operator, Evotel, saw the need and jumped at the chance to build a fibre network in Krugersdorp and give residents the internet connection speeds they deserved.
“Evotel stands for ‘Fibre for Everyone’ and it is our mission to provide everyone in more remote areas of the country with a world-class fibre internet network and allow them fast connection speeds to have seamless multimedia experiences, without delays and unnecessary buffering of movies and gaming content, as well as quick communication services such as video calling to stay in touch with family and friends across the country and the world for that matter,” explains Bradley Bekker, Head of Business Development at Evotel.
breaking ground, without breaking ground
In January 2019, Evotel broke ground on the Krugersdorp infrastructure build in the Rant-en-Dal suburb. Little ground was actually broken as this network installation was not a trenched solution where the town would be dug up to lay fibre cables. No, this is an aerial fibre installation, which few people were aware existed, and only a few short trenches were needed here and there during an aerial infrastructure build.
There are multiple benefits to an aerial or over-ground network installation. Firstly, there is the speed in which a network can be rolled out and activated. It is much faster than the traditional trenched solutions where streets and pavements have to be dug up to lay the cables and then have to be refilled before the build is considered complete. Aerial infrastructures make use of already existing municipal infrastructures, lampposts, to string cables that allows for a much quicker rollout and activation.
reduced risk to damaging other infrastructure
Furthermore, notes Bekker, “The risk of hitting municipal services, such as water and sewage pipes and electrical lines, during a conventional trenched build, is also very likely. An average of two to seven breaks per day is common when a trenched solution is put in and places unnecessary stresses on already crippled municipalities to deliver these basic services and repairs.” Disruptions to these municipal services can sometimes take days to repair; not only leaving you without an internet connection, but possibly water, electricity or sewage services.
“Evotel has the lion’s share of Krugersdorp covered and those residents on our Evotel fibre network don’t have to worry about any such disruptions,” Bekker adds.
The Evotel Krugersdorp fibre network passes 12 606 homes, giving them access to a fast and reliable fibre internet connection, if they choose to sign up. The network currently has upwards of 4 000 active users benefitting from the estimated 450km Evotel fibre optic cabling that has been installed, across the Rant-en-Dal, Krugersdorp West, Noordheuwel and Oatlands, Rant-en-Dal, Dan Pienaarville, Krugersdorp North, Monument, Quellerie Park, Breaunanda, Lewisham, Wentworth Park, Krugersdorp West, Mindalore, Oatlands, Agavia, Boltonia, Noordheuwel and Chancliff areas.
The first to connect
Rant-en-Dal resident, Piet Nel, was the first to be connected and activated on the Evotel aerial fibre network in Krugersdorp, through the internet service provider (ISP) Cool Ideas.
“I am ecstatic with my Evotel fibre network! I almost forget that I have fibre and internet, because I don’t have to think about it. It is always there and working, unlike with my previous ADSL network provider. I rely on my computers being up and connected 24 hours a day and since being on Evotel’s fibre network I have had nothing but constant, fast connection speeds,” Nel says.
Expanding further on reliability and network up-time, Nel adds: “In the two and a half years that I have been on the Evotel network there have been one or two times the network was down. But, before I could even call to find out what the issue is and how long it will take to fix, the network was repaired and everything ran smoothly as always,” Nel adds.
According to Bekker, it is comments like these that make everyone at Evotel proud and is testament to the professional services our local contractor, Impisi Projects, provides. “Customers only having good things to say about how happy they are with our network and its reliability is what drives us to continue building fibre networks that will assist people in their everyday lives. There is nothing more rewarding than compliments from happy customers.”
Evotel also started its Schools Programme in 2019; whereby the company provides any school that falls under its network coverage area with free internet access through its fibre infrastructure. Five Krugersdorp schools were some of the first to benefit from this initiative.
Monument Primary School, Krugersdorp High School, St Ursula’s School, Diederichs Technical High School and CURAMUS School of Autism are all being provided with free access to the Evotel fibre network, providing over 2000 learners with fast and reliable internet access to assist with their education. Through the Evotel network these learners now have the ability to do quick research for school projects, participate in online schooling initiatives and utilise all the prospects the internet can offer them during their time at school.
“We are currently in the process of activating five more schools in the area to be part of the Evotel Schools Programme that will benefit from free fibre access,” adds Bekker.
This initiative saves schools in the region of R24 000 per annum on leasing and running a fibre line – money that can be invested otherwise.
“We care about the future of South Africa and its youth which is why we decided to sponsor the fibre infrastructure for schools and ensure the success of our youth’s education,” Bekker says.
The schools that have received the free fibre internet connection only have positive things to say about Evotel’s generosity and the assistance being provided by the company in educating the youth.
Says MJ Moore, Principal at Monument Primary School, Krugersdorp: “We would like to thank Evotel for providing our school with free fibre internet connection. This has benefitted 1200 learners as well as all our staff to continue teaching and not have learners fall behind. The fibre connection allowed us to continue classes through Teams and to set up a drive where learners can download work during lockdown.”
With the Krugersdorp build, as with all Evotel’s networks, the company focussed on investing in the community and employed local contractors to assist with the construction of the infrastructure.
Impisi Projects was one of the local companies employed to assist in the build. Impisi was initially employed as a subcontractor, but due to the exceptional work and quality provided, the company showed its worth and has now been employed by Evotel as a primary contractor to finalise the overall Krugersdorp build. The company is also now employed to deal with installations at properties.
“The quality of work that Impisi Projects presented during the initial build was so impressive that we made the decision to promote them to a primary contractor to help complete the Krugersdorp network and afterwards take responsibility for the upkeep and servicing of our network in Krugersdorp. We are confident that their outstanding service delivery will only benefit the residents of the town further in the future and will keep Evotel’s name in good standing as a result,” notes Bekker.
Despite initial teething problems relating to public participation and clarity regarding the difference between traditional trenched and Evotel’s aerial solution, which was quickly addressed, Evotel considers the Krugersdorp build as one of its most successful network rollouts.
“We upped our public participation process in Krugersdorp, which also birthed our current and much more stringent public participation model used in all builds. Despite a rocky start, we successfully managed to have the first phases of the Krugersdorp build complete before the hard lockdown, giving many people the ability to work reliably from home. The uptake of users in Krugersdorp is continuing to grow, all while lockdown restrictions have essentially been completely lifted,” Bekker concludes.