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Friday Jun 19, 2015

R1bn Joburg broadband roll-out on track again

After long delays because of legal wrangling over the City of Joburg's broadband project, agreement has been reached with Ericsson South Africa to transfer over 900km of fibre optic broadband network to the city.

At its January sitting, the council took a resolution mandating city manager Trevor Fowler to begin negotiations with Ericsson SA guided by the prescripts of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The city will now obtain full control of the network and house it in a Municipal Owned Entity (MOE).

As part of the agreement, Ericsson is to transfer all contracts and the network to the city's MOE.

The agreement will see the city pay Ericsson R1.2 billion for costs incurred in the roll-out of the network and the contracts related to the network based on an independent valuation.

The city intends to use the broadband infrastructure to drive down the cost of telecommunication and, thus, the cost of doing business in Joburg.

The transfer would also bolster the city's desire to eliminate digital exclusion through the massification of affordable broadband, said spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane.

The primary objectives of the Joburg Broadband Network include:

Lowering the cost of doing business in Joburg.

Increasing usage and penetration of high-speed broadband connectivity.

Facilitating the growth and development of new and existing information and communications technology businesses.

Increasing access to the benefits of internet-based communications. Achieving digital inclusion. Reducing government telecom costs. Improving service delivery. City mayor Parks Tau said Joburg was now "in a position to turn this valuable public asset into an instrument of accelerated delivery".

"The city has addressed the infrastructure spatial inequality by, among others, building the network.

"We can now accelerate the roll-out of 1 000 wi-fi hotspots, extend the range of our smart citizen initiative to encompass almost all points of citizen engagement in the city."

The completion of the agreement is subject to the approval of the Competition Commission and other customary closing conditions.

The parties expect the agreement and the transfer of the network to be completed by the end of August.

CityWatch
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