Herotel upgrades fibre customers to segment routing network

Read time 3min 20sec
Anthony Laing, GM of networking at NEC XON.
Anthony Laing, GM of networking at NEC XON.

Herotel has collaborated with systems integrator NEC XON to upgrade fibre customers to its segment routing (SR) network, which it says will provide customers with better quality connectivity services for less.

In April, the fibre network operator announced revised fibre-to-the-home pricing, including a 50Mbps symmetrical uncapped option for R499 per month, as it positioned itself to become a national player, as competition in SA’s fibre market heats up.

According to Herotel, all of its products are symmetrical (the download and upload speeds are the same) with no fair use policies, and includes free installation and a free-to-use router.

In its latest move, the company says it is implementing what it bills as SA’s first commercial SR network, based on Juniper Networks and Universal Routing Platform technology, through its partnership with NEC XON.

The move will position Herotel as one of the strongest direct access operators in SA, it says.

SR, according toHerotel, enables service providers, hyper-scale Web providers and large enterprises that own and operate their own core transmission networks, to make them much more efficient and easier to automate, which means they can ultimately supply services for less because they have lower administration overhead.

“The benefits of the technology ultimately means Herotel can provide a better quality service for less,” says Anthony Laing, GM of networking at NEC XON.

“The automation and efficiencies of the technology mean they need fewer people to provision their services, which reduces overheads. That’s a huge competitive advantage for a direct access operator forging a dominant position as a national fibre player.”

Herotel says its segment routing network targets any service provider that operates a substantial transmission network and the target market would, in turn, consist of all users of the network, from individuals to large enterprises and government organisations.

The new network also means Herotel customers can provision services, such as Internet access and voice over IP, faster and more cost-effectively than competitors with other core network types.

With the implementation of NEC XON’s solution, Herotel has consolidated 19 separate operating entities and networks into one.

“With the combination of the skilfully architected network and implementation services from NEC XON, together with the Juniper Networks technology, we now have the platform to achieve our very ambitious growth goals,” says Eldred Ekermans, CTO of Herotel.

“The new network enables us to remain true to our core design philosophy, driving costs down while still meeting all the quality and availability requirements without being over-engineered or short-sighted.”

In 2018, Herotel said it identified the need for a next-generation network to meet the burgeoning demands of South African Internet users. The business was growing rapidly and had, by February 2020, acquired 40 independent companies, serving homes and businesses in 400 towns across SA.

Organic growth now drives the construction of at least 16 additional fibre networks in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, and the direct access service provider recently announced it will bring fibre to 18 more towns in the Western Cape.

When SA was locked down in March 2020, the fibre network operator says traffic on its network immediately spiked by 30%.

“NEC XON helped us create a network that uses Juniper’s innovative technology that makes much more effective use of the network. Our network is now more flexible and adaptable, which means it easily handles the unexpected,” notes Ekermans.

Herotel says it is migrating customers in phases. It intends to have migrated all fibre customers by the end of 2021, with customers on its fixed wireless networks following in 2022.

See also