Gauteng broadband project takes shape, at last

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The province has already spent R1.2 billion on the Gauteng Broadband Network.
The province has already spent R1.2 billion on the Gauteng Broadband Network.

The Gauteng province will now be able to proceed with phase two of the broadband network infrastructure project.

This, after the State IT Agency (SITA) finalised the selection process of the service provider that will be responsible for implementation of the project.

SITA, which is tasked with the procurement process for the Gauteng Broadband Network (GBN) infrastructure project, confirmed to ITWeb the contract has been awarded to Altech.

The state-owned IT agency's decision to award the contract comes after a tumultuous period between SITA and the Department of e-Government in regards to the procurement process so that phase two of the GBN project can come into effect.

Last year, the e-government department expressed frustration with SITA in the lead up to the rollout of the next phase of the GBN infrastructure project. As a result, the department was looking to deviate from the SITA Act to procure infrastructure for phase two.

However, following engagements between the provincial government's finance portfolio committee and SITA, the agency promised that a successful bidder would be appointed by 30 June.

A spokesperson for SITA revealed the tender to implement phase two has been awarded and it is in the contracting stage with the successful bidder.

Modern agenda

Considered Gauteng province's flagship ICT project, the provincial government began implementing the GBN in 2014 as part of the city region's modernisation agenda.

The project is in line with the province's e-government strategy, which aims to ensure the modernisation of government and delivery of services in a digital age. It also aims to improve linkages and integration among city region governments and their departments.

The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) sees high-speed connectivity as a critical foundational infrastructure requirement for success of the province's city region modernisation agenda. GPG is of the view that cost saving is an added advantage of the broadband project.

Under the leadership of finance MEC and head of the e-government department, Barbara Creecy, the provincial government continues to invest in ICT infrastructure and rollout the broadband project.

The province has so far invested R1.2 billion to ensure realisation of the GNB project.

Network access

Following her 2018/2019 budget vote presentation last week, Creecy said significant progress has been made to deploy the broadband infrastructure project across the province.

She stressed the importance of kick-starting the second phase of the project in order to extend connectivity to government institutions such as schools and clinics. According to Creecy, delays in the installation of the project have caused anxiety as to whether her department will be able to connect the 864 new sites ear-marked for this financial year.

To date, a total of 1 181 GPG sites are connected to the network across the province, covering the five developmental corridors, noted the MEC.

"The rollout has resulted in the implementation of the voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) programme, which reduced telephony costs in the province. At the end of the 2017/18 financial year, VOIP was activated in 150 GBN sites, which resulted in significant cost savings, estimated to be in the region of 60% of the current expenditure on telephony."

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