Didata wins R54m CT network tender

Paul Vecchiatto
By Paul Vecchiatto, ITWeb Cape Town correspondent
Johannesburg, 06 Dec 2010

Dimension Data has been awarded a R54 million contract by the City of Cape Town to design, build, implement and operate a metro area network (MAN) over the new fibre optic cables that have been laid.

Leon van Wyk, City of Cape Town telecommunications manager, says the contract is still within the 21-day appeal period and, should there be no objection, then Dimension Data will begin work on the tender after 20 December.

He did not divulge the names of the other bidders for the deal, but confirmed that they had been notified of the award.

“It is at a particularly sensitive stage as we are waiting to see if there are any objections,” he says.

The tender is to build a MAN on the active layer of the fibre optic network that the city has been building for the past four years. The project was first proposed in 2006, it received council approval in October 2008 and the first contracts were issued in April 2009.

Phase one of the project, that could total around R400 million, involves the connecting up of 54 of the City of Cape Town's main buildings and properties by fibre optic cables. So far, this has entailed the laying of 2 900km of cable, the installation of five switching centres and manholes and other infrastructure.

Further phases will include the expansion of the network to connect all 600 buildings and properties of the municipality with the ultimate goal of making Cape Town Africa's first broadband-connected city.

Van Wyk says the contract is running ahead of schedule, with the commissioning date expected in March next year, earlier than the original date set for June 2011.

“We are also coming in below budget. So far the capital expenditure has been R153 million and that includes the contract awarded to Dimension Data,” he says.

The primary objective for Cape Town's roll-out of broadband infrastructure is to cut its telecommunications costs, as the city has an annual phone bill of more than R110 million.

The second objective is to run a more efficient and effective municipal service, while the third objective is to resell spare capacity to commercial or appropriately-licensed private operators to generate income for the city and to minimise the disruption caused by trenching by other operators to lay cable.

“We are willing to resell fibre optic cable to private operators, but we have also installed a broadband infrastructure and maintenance system that allows us to predict possible cable problems and then re-route data before the users are even aware there is a problem,” Van Wyk says.