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Collaboration enhances internet connectivity in Eastern Cape, driving economic growth


East London, Eastern Cape, 20 Feb 2024
Edward Lawrence, co-founder of Workonline Communications Group.
Edward Lawrence, co-founder of Workonline Communications Group.

The profound impact of an internet point of presence (POP) in East London is proving to revolutionise internet connectivity in the Eastern Cape.

The POP was established by one of the largest IP transit providers on the African continent, Workonline Communications Group, in October 2022, at the East London Industrial Development Zone Datacentre (ELIDZ DC), in Sunnyridge, East London.

In the year since the POP’s establishment, there has been a tangible improvement in internet connectivity and access in the region. The move has attracted more interest in the area, for instance, creating an internet exchange point, which further helps in localising traffic.

The remarkable difference is the benefit the enhanced connectivity is bringing to low-income households. One particular company, Ilitha Telecommunications, set out to provide fast, uncapped, prepaid broadband internet to underserved areas like townships. Commenting on the impact, Mzi Holmes, CTO of Ilitha, emphasised the transformative power of having infrastructure in the region, highlighting its significance for local networks. "The introduction of the Workonline Communications POP in East London has been a game-changer. It not only serves the forgotten people of the Eastern Cape, but significantly saves costs for network providers. Local transit acquisition is now possible, transforming the dynamics of connectivity in our region."

Holmes touched on the vital aspects of improving internet infrastructure in the Eastern Cape, as the fourth most populated province in South Africa, according to the latest Census 2022 results. He emphasised: "The collaboration between wholesale providers investing in regional infrastructure and broadband providers leveraging that to serve communities at low cost is drawing attention to the Eastern Cape, providing connectivity solutions to previously overlooked areas."

There is a critical need to bolster internet infrastructure in the Eastern Cape due to longstanding neglect that the region has faced. Holmes pointed out that the collaboration helps rectify historical disparities. He stated: “Our efforts are not just about technological advancement; they're about rectifying a long-standing issue of neglect. By Workonline establishing a robust POP in East London, we're placing the Eastern Cape on the map, drawing much-needed attention to areas that have been overlooked in terms of technological advancements.

“This initiative isn't solely about improving connectivity; it's a statement of empowerment for communities that have been underserved for far too long. It's about bridging the digital divide and ensuring that the Eastern Cape stands shoulder to shoulder with other tech-savvy regions."

Crucially, the POP is not just about cost reduction, but also about optimising traffic flow. Holmes elaborated: "Directing traffic out of the Eastern Cape, instead of relying on distant locations like Durban or Johannesburg, significantly reduces latency. It's a fundamental shift that ensures parity in pricing for internet access in comparison to other major cities."

Furthermore, the collaboration has set the stage for enhanced internet reliability, paving the way for increased data centre presence. Holmes noted: "Encouraging companies to establish data centres in the Eastern Cape further strengthens the network. As the region attracts more investments, it becomes a central hub for diverse internet routes."

Edward Lawrence, co-founder of Workonline Communications, added: "Our joint endeavours showcase how partnerships can foster innovation and transform the regional landscape. We're not merely building infrastructure; we're forging pathways for economic growth and technological advancement." 

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Workonline Communications Group

Workonline (AS 37271) is one of the largest and the fastest growing IP transit networks in Africa. The company is focused on providing highly scalable, high quality, and flexible service options to meet the needs of carriers, Internet Service Providers, content providers, and mobile operators.

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