Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) is currently deploying a fibre infrastructure to the value of R72-million in the Eastern Cap, with more than 100km of fibre being laid in a region that includes Mthata and East London.

DFA has evolved into the largest open access fibre infrastructure provider in southern Africa, with an expenditure plan in excess of R3,5-billion countrywide.

The Eastern Cape project will not only launch the region into the digital age, but it will also bring significant investment into the area.

The socio-economic benefits of fibre optic networks are vast, affordable broadband contributes to increased economic activity. Expansion of communications infrastructure brings about new business opportunities that are dependent on broadband like ISPs, Internet Cafes and banking services.

Open Access broadband also stimulates competition within the telecommunications market, ultimately reducing Internet costs. Furthermore, the competitive advantage and productivity gains of broadband are enormous. Municipalities are able to provide electronic services, education levels improve with access to information and communities have access to e-health and e-learning.

DFA  CEO Gustav Smit says the company merely provides the open access fibre infrastructure. “This enables licensed mobile operators and ISPs like Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Internet Solutions and MWEB to give communities access to the network.”

Smit has called on ISPs to play a leading role in mobilising communities. “End users simply don’t know what 20Mbps or 100Mbps to the home means. An opportunity needs to be created for users to test drive serious broadband.”

The Mthata project is planned to start in June 2012 and the project in East London will be completed by the end of July 2012.