Tag: fibre

Mweb suffers big outage

A major outage on the Mweb network that runs on Vumatel’s fibre infrastructure has left many South Africans without Internet access, according to MyBroadband.

  • Mweb told some clients that the problem lies with Vumatel
  • Vumatel said its tests show its infrastructure is working perfectly
  • Some users have been offline for two days or longer
  • Mweb has said that many subscribers from Sandton, Rosebank, and Bryanston were experiencing the same issue
  • Some users experience packet loss to Europe servers in games at around 20:00 every night, all across the country

MyBroadband contacted Mweb and Vumatel for comment, but neither company could immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

Source: MyBroadband

Telkom and Openserve are accused of unlawfully using network infrastructure of another provider to offer fibre broadband services.

The unlawful use of network infrastructure was discovered during the recent R30-million upgrade of the fibre optic cable network in Midstream Estate.

To fully understand the situation, it is necessary to go back to the early 2000s when Midstream Estate was in the development stage.

During this phase, the developer Bondev registered servitude for the installation and maintenance of a telecommunications network.

It built a primary set of sleeves to provide telecoms services in the estate. A separate set of sleeves were also installed by Bondev and handed to Telkom for their purposes.

Over time the Telkom sleeves network and connection pits were extended, and fibre optic cables were installed by contractors under the instruction of Telkom and Openserve.

Supersonic, a subsidiary of MTN, entered into a long-term agreement with Bondev in 2016 to use the primary set of sleeves and kiosks to install fibre and provide broadband access to Midstream residents.

In 2018 Supersonic made important changes to its service in Midstream Estate. This included upgrading the entire fibre optic cable network.

What was discovered during this upgrade was that Telkom/Openserve or their sub-contractors unlawfully used the Bondev sleeve network and kiosks to provide services.

Midstream Estate said these unlawful connections must now be removed from the Bondev and Supersonic infrastructure.

This is needed to “prevent future unauthorised and unlawful access to either the sleeves or kiosks which may lead to damage of the expensive network installed”.

A challenge is that the cables through the kiosks are unlabelled which made it impossible to identify these irregular cables.

They are now removed in bulk, along with the legacy cables of Supersonic.

This is causing service interruption to houses where Telkom/Openserve unlawfully used Bondev’s infrastructure.

“In a few instances, contractors took matter into their own hands and damaged or vandalised some of the kiosks,” the manager added.

He said a process has started to claim damages from the parties involved.

Another problem is that Telkom contractors, in some cases, used the Supersonic fibre to pull Openserve fibre into homes.

They allegedly broke open the Bondev kiosks and unlawfully used this infrastructure to serve their needs.

This causes damage to the Supersonic fibre network and resulted in downtime for clients.

Telkom responded to the allegations, saying Openserve has the largest fibre infrastructure in South Africa and does not occupy other operator’s infrastructure without agreement.

It said Openserve has legal access to roll out fibre infrastructure in Midstream Estate and has its own conduits in the estate.

It explained Midstream Estate has a unique situation of two telecommunications infrastructures which creates the confusion.

In some instances, due to poor identification of conduits, operators lay infrastructure in the wrong ducts.

“The agreement in Midstream Estate with the operators is to correct this following the issue of a 7-day notice,” it said.

What is interesting about this case is that Telkom has previously launched a legal challenge against Vodacom for the unlawful use of Telkom infrastructure in the Dennegeur residential estate.

This came after the Homeowners’ Associations of 15 private residential estates in the Western Cape invited Vodacom to install fibre in their complexes.

Telkom already had underground conduits in these estates which it used for telephone lines and ADSL services.

Vodacom asked Telkom to use its ducts, but Telkom refused. It argued it was not obliged to share its infrastructure.

Vodacom installed fibre in these ducts anyway, which resulted in a protracted legal battle between the two parties.

Vodacom also filed a complaint with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) regarding Telkom’s unwillingness to enter into a Facilities Leasing agreement.

ICASA determined that the sharing of duct infrastructure in these estates was “technically and economically feasible”, and “promoted the efficient use of networks and services”.

The legal battles also went Vodacom’s way.

The Western Cape High Court initially ruled that Vodacom unlawfully accessed its duct infrastructure, but this ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

The SCA ruled that Telkom did not possess the infrastructure which formed part of Dennegeur, but that it was owned, occupied, and controlled by the Home Owners Association.

Telkom tried to fight this ruling, but the SCA denied Telkom leave to appeal. The ruling effectively forces Telkom to share its cable ducts with competing fibre network operators.

It is interesting that Telkom was therefore simultaneously using other operators’ infrastructure and trying to declare others using its infrastructure unlawful.

 

Telkom fixed-line bloodbath

Source: MyBroadband

Telkom’s interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2020 revealed what most people expected – a big decline in fixed-line subscribers.

The company’s fixed-line subscribers dropped from 1 975 000 in September 2019 to 1 432 000 in September 2020.

This means Telkom lost 543 000 fixed-line subscribers year-on-year, which equates to a 27.5% decline in its fixed-access line customer base.

The latest decline follows a trend which started in 2001 when the company lost 531,000 subscribers from its peak of 5,493,000 fixed-line users in 2000.

Over the past two decades, Telkom launched numerous new fixed-line products, including ADSL, VDSL, and fibre, but this was not enough to stem the losses.

Many Telkom subscribers dumped their fixed-line services and migrated to competitors like Vumatel, Vodacom, MTN, and Rain.

While copper theft was to blame for some of the losses, Telkom was its own worst enemy in many cases.

The company’s poor customer service and billing problems caused tremendous frustration among its users, which prompted them to look for alternatives.

Telkom, however, put the decline down to factors outside of its control like competition from mobile services, copper theft, and tough economic conditions.

The operator has also proactively started to replace its copper-based clients to fixed-LTE – a strategy which is paying dividends.

The decline in fixed-lines can be expected to continue as Telkom is planning to stop providing copper-based services altogether by 2024.

Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko said phasing out copper was needed because maintaining multiple cable network technologies is costly, and expertise on copper networks is dwindling.

Curiously the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed Telkom’s plan to decommission its copper network.

It has created an immediate strong demand for broadband access, and the company’s fibre network is not able to meet this demand.

Telkom’s wholesale arm Openserve is now using its copper network to satisfy this demand in the short term.

The company did, however, say it will continue its decommissioning strategy in locations where copper is not “economically viable”.

Copper used to rule until fibre, LTE, and 5G arrived
For over a decade, Telkom’s ADSL was the only game in town for most South Africans who were looking for affordable, uncapped broadband access.

Sentech’s MyWireless and WBS’s iBurst wireless products provided some competition to Telkom in selected areas in the mid-2000s, but ADSL remained the preferred choice.

Things started to change when Vumatel launched affordable fibre access in Parkhurst in October 2014.

Vumatel showed it was possible to take on and beat Telkom in the fixed-line market, which sparked a fibre revolution in South Africa.

Many other fibre network operators, like Frogfoot, Octotel, Cybersmart, Vodacom, MTN, and SADV, followed Vumatel’s example and started to roll out fibre across the country.

Telkom was on the back foot, and many households and businesses dumped their ADSL line for fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-business.

Improvements in mobile technologies, which made it possible to offer fast and affordable fixed-wireless broadband access, emerged as another big competitor to ADSL.

Over the last few years MTN, Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom, and Rain launched competitively priced fixed-LTE and 5G products.

Telkom even proactively moved many of its ADSL subscribers to its new fixed-LTE products in many areas.

Both fibre and wireless access provide higher speeds at lower prices than ADSL, which means DSL is seen as old and tired technology which should only be used as a last resort.

The effect was a rapid decline in copper lines as ADSL and VDSL subscribers migrated to these new technologies.

 

Vodacom in talks to buy Vumatel, DFA

Source: Telecom Paper

Vodacom South Africa is in discussions with Remgro to acquire Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH), which owns Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), reports MyBroadband citing sources.

Remgro said it does not comment on speculation. CIVH acquired 34.9 percent of Vumatel for an undisclosed amount in June 2018 and the remaining 65.1 percent in May 2019.

Vodacom’s interest in Vumatel did not die down after the CIVH acquisition. The two companies started discussions in May 2018, when Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the operator wanted to become a bigger player in the fibre-to-the-home market.

After the acquisition, Vumatel started working in tandem with DFA to provide fibre access to South African businesses and homes. Their fibre rollout in recent years is impressive. Vumatel and DFA’s 29 300km fibre network serves every key metro in South Africa. It passes 690 000 premises and connects 11 500 mobile base stations and 240 000 homes and businesses.

MyBroadband said the details of what such a deal may look like remain sketchy but it is widely accepted that Vodacom would have to pay a premium for this asset. Remgro has invested a large amount of money and resources into building CIVH into a strong fibre player.

ADSL shutdown approaches

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

Openserve has warned that it will shut down its ADSL offering in areas where fibre connectivity is available from 1 September.

In a letter sent to ISPs which was subsequently forwarded to affected customers, Openserve said that in areas where Openserve Fibre Connect (OFC) was already available, all DSL and copper services would be disconnected.

The company said this move was part of its continued drive to upgrade services to next-generation technologies and reduce infrastructure duplication.

Openserve said this would assist the network in enhancing the levels of service to ISPs and customers.

“We will be upgrading all copper broadband services to fibre broadband services in areas where Openserve Fibre Connect (OFC) is already available,” Openserve told ISPs.

“To this end, we will therefore also be discontinuing all existing DSL and Openserve Copper Connect (OCC) services in these areas.”

“All DSL/OCC services earmarked for discontinuance are in the fibre footprint and may be successfully migrated to OFC,” the network said.

Migrating ADSL customers to fibre

The network requested the assistance of ISPs to help migrate customers from older technologies to fibre, noting that the standard cancellation and ordering processes would apply.

It confirmed that any ADSL and copper customers in the affected areas would be disconnected from 1 September 2020 onwards.

“Consideration will be given in cases where an OFC has been ordered but not installed yet,” Openserve said.

The network added that all fibre installations for DSL services that are migrated will be free.

“Openserve assures you of our intention to carry out our broadband network infrastructure upgrade with the least amount of disruption to your customers,” the company told ISPs.

“We remain confident that the Openserve modernisation programme will benefit your business and your customers in the long run.”

Affected areas

According to the communication sent to customers, these areas will be impacted by the Openserve announcement.

If you have an ADSL connection there, you will need to migrate to a fibre Internet connection or you will be disconnected from 1 September.

Telkom has informed its customers that it will be migrating them to fibre and wireless services soon, as it will no longer support copper-based voice and DSL services.

  • ADSL and VDSL customers  will be migrated to capped and uncapped fibre packages
  • DSL users will be migrated to fixed-LTE products if no fibre is available
  • Cable theft and inclement weather will no longer impact DSL subscribers, so they can therefore expect better service levels and less downtime
  • This will impact ISPs which have thousands of ADSL subscribers
  • These subscribers can be moved onto other broadband solutions, which are better products
  • The move will likely make Telkom more competitive

Is Telkom dying?

According to a recent MyBroadband article, Telkom is rapidly losing ADSL and fixed-line subscribers across South Africa.

The company once had aspirations to be the leading fixed-broadband provider in the country, but current figures show this is not the case:

  • Telkom’s fixed-line subscribers stand at 2 267 000, the lowest since 1994
  • Telkom’s ADSL, VDSL, and fibre subscribers declined from 981 176 to 847 650 in the last year
  • There has been a 13.6% decline in fixed-broadband subscribers
  • Independent fibre network operators (FNOs) are rolling out fibre networks faster than Telkom can
  • Companies like Vumatel offer a wide range of pricing – from free for a 4Mbps line to R1,299 for a 1Gbps connection 
  • Vumatel’s partnership model rapidly gained momentum in South Africa, putting Telkom on the back foot
  • The rush to get fibre rolled out across SA lead to a land-grab and pricing cuts, leaving Telkom on the sidelines
  • Telkom is too big and too slow to respond quickly
  • Today Telkom’s fibre-to-the-home market share is below 40%
  • Telkom has significantly cut its fibre-to-the-home investment over the last year, decreasing the capital expenditure in its fibre network from R2.112 billion in its 2017/2018 financial year, to R1.216 billion in its 2018/2019 financial year

15 000 CCTV cameras coming to Jo’burg

Source: Vumacam

Vumatel unveiled its CCTV platform Vumacam this week, which it hopes will help make South Africa’s streets and neighbourhoods safer.

The Vumacam system is initially only available in Johannesburg, and currently consists of 889 cameras covering 48 suburbs.

There are 917 camera poles installed around the city, however, which when fully populated will hold over 3 000 cameras.

The video feeds from Vumacam’s CCTV system are then made available to security companies for a monthly fee, depending how many cameras they would like access to.

Vumacam is also in discussions with the police and car tracking companies to provide their CCTV feeds, it said.

How Vumacam works
Vumacam’s business model is based on providing its video feeds to security companies and enforcement agencies for a subscription fee, which is based on how many cameras they want access to.

Vumacam assembles and installs the CCTV cameras in the areas it rolls out to, ensuring there is adequate coverage and the quality of the video feed is up to its standards. Its “video as a service” is then open to companies after they have been heavily vetted.

This means that multiple security companies can subscribed to the same camera feed, and if a new security company is hired by a resident’s organisation, for example, it can access the vendor-neutral CCTV infrastructure.

Vumacam said its CCTV system transfers its UHD feed via fibre connections to Teraco’s data centre. From there, it can be distributed to security control rooms which have subscribed to their service.

Security companies have the ability to view the feeds they have access to, lay intelligent software on top of the feed to make footage processing quicker and easier, and rewind their feeds to look back at certain places at certain times.

Vumacam emphasised that the companies cannot download the footage, however, and footage is only stored on their system for 30 days.

“Data is securely stored in a Tier 3 data centre, which is accessed by a secure connection. This ensures it is not subject to interference and not at risk of local disturbance.”

It added that 96% uptime for its systems is guaranteed, unless an issue is beyond its control – such as extended load-shedding.

In terms of regulation, Vumacam said their system is POPI Act compliant and meets the most stringent privacy requirements.

Software
Where Vumacam’s system really stands out from your standard CCTV camera installation, however, is its advanced software features.

It not only provides a live feed from cameras, but also serves licence plate recognition (LPR) services, exception alerts, and the ability to isolate elements in an area.

The LPR functionality does as its name suggests, and every vehicle passing an LPR camera is checked against multiple databases – including SAPS-listed stolen vehicles.

The “exception” notifications allow incidents to be surfaced to a security command centre, such as a vehicle illegally dumping in a park, which means operators do not need to watch hundreds of screens the time looking for potential crimes.

Software can also be laid on top of the video feed which allows security operators to search for specific objects during a set time period – such as a red car on a particular street on a Wednesday. This makes investigating incidents reported after the fact much quicker and easier.

Expansion
Vumacam said it plans to expand across Johannesburg in the next 12 months, with a rollout from Braamfontein in the south to Woodmead in the north.

This will consist of 15,000 cameras when complete and R500-million has been allocated for this expansion.

As fibre broadband rolls out to South Africa’s townships, people will switch away from satellite TV services to online platforms like Netflix. This is according to a recent article by MyBroadband.

Vumatel plans to connect South Africa’s townships – if the pilot in Alexandra is successful, Vumatel will replicate the model in Diepsloot.

Within the next two years, Vumatel aims to connect 2.5-million homes and 10-million township residents to fibre broadband.

However, DStv research has shown that once someone makes the switch to an online subscription video service, they don’t go back to satellite TV.

MultiChoice South Africa CEO Calvo Mawela told MyBroadband there is no doubt that the future of pay TV is online, which is why they are arguing that satellite and Internet-based pay TV services must fall under the same regulations in South Africa.

A saving grace for DStv in South Africa has been the lacklustre penetration of broadband services.

However, with the launch of Netflix locally in 2016 and the proliferation of fibre infrastructure, DStv’s market share has changed.

“Over 100 000 Premium subscribers left us in the last financial year,” said Mawela. This was largely as a result of the popularity of Netflix, he added.

He said most of their growth is happening at the lower-end of the market through DStv Access packages, where the profit margins are lower than on DStv Premium and DStv Compact.

Now with Vumatel rolling out 100Mbps fibre services to townships at R89 per month, DStv’s lower-tier services will come under pressure.

Mawela said Vumatel rolling out fibre to Alexandra will kill DStv’s satellite TV market share.

Remgro is in advanced talks to buy fibre provider Vumatel as South Africa’s richest man seeks to consolidate the country’s expanding broadband infrastructure industry, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal by billionaire Johann Rupert’s investment vehicle would give an equity value of closely-held Vumatel of about 1.1 billion rand ($93 million), said the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private.

Rupert would then combine Vumatel with rival Dark Fibre Africa, in which Remgro owns a majority stake, the people said. The deal could still fall through, and if so Vumatel would consider selling shares on Johannesburg’s stock exchange, they said.

A spokesman for Dark Fibre declined to comment. A spokesman for Remgro said she didn’t have an immediate comment and Vumatel couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The deal would allow Dark Fibre, which has a network of about 10,000 km (6,214 miles), to expand into South Africa’s fast-growing fiber-to-home industry, which Vumatel helped to pioneer after entering the market in 2015. Households in cities including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban are increasingly seeking higher speeds and more capacity to handle rising consumption of data for services including streaming.

Dark Fibre trails Econet Wireless Global Ltd. unit Liquid Telecom in terms of network size. The company has raised 1.25 billion rand in debt funding and extended a revolving credit facility to 1.1 billion rand to fund expansion, according to its website.

Talks between Dark Fibre and Vumatel started in October and could be concluded within the next two months, said the people. Banks working on the deal include Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Investec Ltd., one of them said. Neither lender could immediately be reached for comment.

Rupert has a net worth of $8 billion, according to the the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Johannesburg-based Remgro also owns stakes in international private hospital operator Mediclinic International Plc and South African spirits maker Distell Group Ltd.

https://mybroadband.co.za

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