The Future of Fibre – Podcast Transcript

The Future of Fibre – Podcast Transcript

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Reading time: 10 minutes


  • Stable connectivity is the biggest advantage of fibre, but the biggest thing at the moment is security.
  • Smart metering is also something to look at right now. Connectivity will allow the Government to do meter reading remotely, streamlining processes and making it more affordable.
  • When dealing with crime, you want to be dealing with it in real time and you need reliable connectivity to react quickly enough.
  • There’s a lot of in terms of security, like number plate recognition and those types of things. A lot of technology still needs to be added, but connectivity is the foundation of everything.
  • Fibre has always been a superior connectivity solution to 5G. It’s stable and cost-effective, and fibre has a lot less challenges than a 5G rollout.
  • In terms of cybersecurity, I assume it would probably be easier to tap into and to potentially hack a 5G wireless network vs fibre network.

Podcast link: https://iono.fm/e/1283177

Jon: Welcome to another episode of the Evotel Podcast. I’m your host, Jon Gericke. With me, Evotel General Manager, Bradley Becker. Bradley, thanks for coming in.

Bradley: Yeah, it’s been some time, so it’s good to be here and chatting with you.

Jon: 2023. We’re living in the future, Bradley Bekker. And you guys are helping us with that, aren’t you?

Bradley: Hundred percent. We’re getting closer and closer to hopefully a lot more maturity in the industry. And I think fibre is now becoming accessible to a lot more people, which is really exciting. Just to be part of that growth, overall, in South Africa, has been really cool. But there’s still a lot of work to do, a lot more evolvement and maturing of the industry and starting to add all the beautiful things that come with fibre connectivity and everything that you can unlock. So super excited for the future, but still a long way to go to get to where we want to be and I’m sure the industry feels the same way.

Jon: Let’s talk about the future of fibre. You’ve told us for years now, fibre is the answer to the internet. What more can you do?

Bradley: Stable connectivity is the biggest advantage. But there are so many things that you can couple on top of that. I think the biggest thing at the moment is security.

People being able to monitor their homes and their kids, et cetera, while they’re at work, make sure that everything is fine, but also when you’re at home. So having a security system that’s functioning all the time is heavily reliant on connectivity and stable connectivity.

I mean, there are talks of fridges and stuff like that that you’re able to now connect to the internet that can pick up when milk is about to go off and when you need all this stuff. So, there are a lot more things. So, I think building smart homes and smart cities is obviously the next step, but I think from a security standpoint, big advantage, big opportunity.

Smart metering is also a big thing. A lot of the stuff we do now is still very labor-intensive and manual. Government municipalities still have people checking meters and stuff. So, connectivity will allow them to also do this remotely, which just also streamlines processes, making it more affordable because they can cut costs on certain things. So, there are various ways of skinning the cat, I suppose but depends on the direction that each FNO (Fibre Network Operator) decides to go or every company that’s kind of tapping into this market decides to go.

Jon: I like what you said about security because you can get these security cameras, which are low bandwidth, and they’ll take a shot every now and again. But you see those on the news, and you can never make out who it is. You need to have these good cameras that will have high-definition images so that we can identify criminals that might get involved. You can’t do that with slow internet or without fibre these days?

Bradley: Obviously, when you’re dealing with crime, you want to be dealing with it in real time. So, if your connectivity is not up to par, it makes it very difficult for your local CPFs (Community Police Forums) and SAPS and all those guys to react quickly enough. The way technology is evolving with AI and all of these types of things, license plate recognition, all those things, are heavily reliant on stable connectivity. So, the technology is being used by some of the guys that are already in that space and tapping into that security side of things there’s a lot of opportunity in terms of number plate recognition, all those types of things. I think a lot of opportunity, but a lot of technology still needs to be added to be able to make the most of it. But definitely, connectivity again is at the foundation of everything.

Jon: The big talk, Bradley, has been about 5G and we’ve seen it advertised and it’s fantastic. But 5G is still very much in only certain parts of the big cities. You guys are spreading out. And you’re showing that you’re almost beating 5G at times.

Bradley: Fibre has always been a superior connectivity solution in the sense, reliable and stable, but cost-effective as well. There are always pros and cons to different technology, wireless, or 5G is a wireless solution. So, there are things that come with that as well, congestion, weather, stealing of batteries at these towers, et cetera because they are readily available. People can see them. 5G has been around or wireless technology like this has been around for quite some time and everyone thought that it was going to replace fibre as well. But fibre has stood its ground and shown that there are a lot more pros to having fibre connectivity than there is wireless with 5G technology. We’ve heard a lot of 5G, but we haven’t really seen a lot of movement.

Jon: So, there’s the whole bandwidth issue that the government’s been dealing with for, I want to say 10 years.

Bradley: Yeah, it’s been quite some time. There’s spectrum bidding and all that type of stuff. So, there’s a lot of things that go into it. Similar to fibre, obviously, also some challenges we experienced, but a lot less in the sense of a 5G rollout.

Jon: I’m just thinking, we’re talking about the future of fibre, but the future is also wireless in a way. Do you think that, or are people already doing it, where they’re putting up for lack of a better way, like a big modem, a big Wi-Fi router and covering an area? Is that even an option at the moment?

Bradley: There are always ways of doing things like that and I suppose it could be a start of small entrepreneurs that start running internet cafes and stuff like that from their house, where they then potentially are able to create little Wi-Fi hotspots if you want to call it that. So, there are opportunities like that. Obviously, from an Evotel standpoint, we install a point-to-point solution. So, we only install one fibre point, but we are able to install multiple fibre points on a specific property. So as an example, if someone has back rooms that they rent out, we can install them into those properties. Or that homeowner can use the fibre connectivity that they have in the main house. They can upgrade it to a faster speed, and they can then add that to the levies or the rent or however, they see fit. So, there is an opportunity there, which is really cool. That’s the whole point of rolling out a fibre connectivity solution like this to suburbs is to unlock this type of opportunity. So, the fact that we’re starting to get to that point is a good sign.

Jon: We were talking earlier about, and when I say earlier, I mean last year, about the opportunities, and you just mentioned that opportunity now. People are becoming YouTube and TikTok superstars… because they can. But again, that’s reliant on speed and reliable connectivity. I can’t do a YouTube live stream, or I can’t do a TikTok live stream without knowing that I’m going to be getting out there to the world. Does Fibre help with that?

Bradley: Most people’s fears in starting anything is that they’re going to be let down by suppliers or people that they rely on to be able to make ends meet and create a career for themselves. So, when you’re dealing with social media content creators, Twitch streamers, et cetera, that reliance on having stable connectivity is always going to be there.

It’s exciting to see because that’s the way the world has gone. We’re seeing a lot more youth getting involved in social media platforms and starting to build their own brands. And it’s exciting to see Evotel being an enabler of that. I think that’s the journey that we want to continue on, enabling people like that to be able to go and create their own brand and create their own future businesses and I think we’re only scratching the surface. There’s a lot more to come with this stuff.

Jon: You and I are a little old to be even imagining what some of the kids are coming up with.

Bradley: Definitely. It’s changed a lot.

Jon: The one thing I did notice, and it was on one of your press releases about 5G is a risk to cybersecurity and increased opportunity for you to be hacked. I didn’t know that. I thought all of that was relatively safe.

Bradley: There’s always the opportunity for people to hack even on fibre connectivity as well. Obviously, there’s certain technology in place that prevents that. I’m not too familiar in terms of cybersecurity and the ins and outs of that but I would assume on a wireless network it would probably be easier to tap into and to hack potentially.

Jon: You can’t unplug fibre. If I’ve got a computer connected to fibre, it’s very difficult to cut that and then connect two pieces of fibre so I can read that information, whereas I could put up an aerial or something, and get your information, even if it takes a while to encode.

Bradley: Hundred percent. Yeah, exactly.

Jon: Okay. Our next podcast is going to be about cyber cities and the smart city that’s coming. We’ve just sort of touched on that now, this ability to have security, to have the “Internet of Things.” Just give us a little preview of how you imagine Evotel helping a smart city evolve.

Bradley: Firstly, from a security standpoint, being able to enable CPF organizations and local policing forums, etc., to be able to look after their communities. A lot of these people that are part of these organisations are community members themselves. So definitely from a security standpoint.

I think from an overall smart metering point of view, a lot of people’s pain points are, “We get a bill at the end of the month, and we don’t know where this reading has come from and who did the reading”. So, there’s a lot of human error that could also go into it. From that side of things, it saves people money. It saves the municipality money, which means they can then take that money and pump it back into the community and uplift them from an infrastructure point of view.

There are talks of creating little Wi-Fi hotspots throughout communities so that if you’re a customer connected to Evotel fibre, you potentially could walk around your house or walk around your community and still be connected. People go for jogs, etc. So, I think just from an overall community upliftment point of view, we would tackle the pressing issues first, which would be around security and overall municipal service delivery.

Jon: Education. We’re going to be doing a podcast later on how you’re helping education as well. And that’s you talk about smart cities, you need smart people and there are fantastic educational opportunities as well with all of this.

Bradley: Definitely! Online learning, etc., which I haven’t mentioned, online learning, being able to have the connectivity at home to be able to take whatever your kids are learning at school, and they can continue at home. They’re not reliant on the connectivity at the school, they have it at home as well.

Jon: Okay, let’s not give too much away. That’s the next part. We’re going to talk about smart cities. We’re going to go into the details. Bradley Becker, thank you very much for coming in.

Bradley: Thanks Jon!

Jon: Bradley Bekker is Evotel general manager joining us here on the Evotel podcast. Do tune in and find our next podcast where we’re going to be talking about smart cities. We’re going to go into small details. There’s something called IOT and IOE. Bradley will explain that to us when you tune into that podcast.

Read the thought leadership article by Bradley Bekker on this topic: https://evotel.co.za/2023/02/02/the-future-of-fibre/

Note: The Evotel Podcast is produced by Pint Size Media and this episode is hosted by SAfm presenter, Jon Gericke.