Gauteng targets 100% broadband connectivity
Gauteng premier David Makhura has stated SA's economic hub province will reach full broadband connectivity within three years.
In his State of the Province Address yesterday, Makhura said the plan is to reach 100% broadband connectivity in Gauteng by 2019, ahead of national government's broadband plans.
In terms of its national broadband policy, the South African government aims to deliver widespread broadband access to 90% of the country's population by 2020, and 100% by 2030.
Makhura noted the broadband plans are in line with the vision of creating a smart province and modernised Gauteng.
"Through our partnerships with the municipalities and the private sector, we will reach our goal of 100% connectivity by 2019."
In 2013, Cabinet approved the plan to provide ubiquitous connectivity to eight municipalities in all of SA's provinces except Gauteng and the Western Cape, as these provinces already have broadband rollout projects in place.
Last year, the Gauteng provincial government announced it has invested over R1 billion in the full realisation of the Gauteng Broadband Network (GBN) for the next four years. The GBN forms part of the Gauteng city region-wide e-government strategy, aimed at improving linkages and integration among city region governments and their departments.
The province's finance department stated it had budgeted R250 million for the broadband infrastructure project for the 2015/2016 financial year.
According to Makhura, the provincial government has connected 10 core network sites and 368 local sites that are fully operational, out of a target of 400 for 2015/16.
In addition, the City of Tshwane has connected 700 free WiFi hotspots, Johannesburg 408 free WiFi hotspots, and Ekurhuleni 408 free WiFi hotspots, he said.
"In order to ensure integration, coordination and coherence across the Gauteng city region, we recently established the Department of e-Government which will drive our modernisation agenda," Makhura said.
He added: "Our goal is to build ICT hubs and science and technology parks in all our development corridors."
Anesu Charamba, ICT team leader at Frost & Sullivan Africa, says the premier's promise is ambitious, but achievable.
"The premier speaks to a project that began in January 2013: the Gauteng Broadband Network. The project essentially aims to develop and maintain a province-wide broadband network, with a planned 95% coverage of the population's network within five years ? from 2014 when the tender was awarded.
"To date, various reports indicate the project may be on track. As such, the premier's comments are feasible, provided the project proceeds as planned," Charamba explains.
"The premier's administration will need to ensure the project remains on track and, where necessary, ensure additional support is available to Altech Alcom Matomo (the company to which the tender was awarded) in the form of either financing, or policy/legal support. Given the project is operating on a 'build, operate, transfer' basis, Altech has further incentive to see the project completed from a profit-generation perspective."
Broadband for all
Meanwhile, minister in the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, today in Parliament, delivered a post-State of the Nation Address update on the state of ICT in the country.
Cwele reiterated government's commitment to broadband access for all the country's citizens.
SA is implementing the rollout of broadband to ensure all citizens are able to use the Internet, he stated. "We want to ensure that ultimately, access to broadband is at competitive prices.
"Government is implementing the rollout of broadband to ensure that citizens are able to use the transformative power of the Internet," Cwele added.