Having secured R2-billion in funding, Neotel has awarded key components of its infrastructure rollout to Cisco through Dimension Data Africa. The two companies will provide the Metropolitan Ethernet network infrastructure and services portion of Neotel’s Internet Protocol (IP) network, expected to be in operation by next month.  

The Metro Ethernet network covers the major cities in South Africa and will connect subscribers, including businesses, to Neotel’s national backbone and services such as the Internet.
According to Craig Zeeman, regional sales manager at Cisco: “Neotel’s momentum is a powerful force in a market in transition. As Neotel takes concrete steps in 2007 to begin its operations in earnest, the result will be true services and the winner will be the consumer and business."
Since Neotel is likely to focus on meeting business needs for effective, high-speed and reliable broadband connectivity, Zeeman says that foremost among "true services" is the ability for companies to benefit from unified communications. This is the power of low-cost IP-enabled video and voice, and data solutions which, to date, have not been feasible due to the high cost of bandwidth.
To deliver both business and consumer services over a single converged Ethernet network, Neotel has selected Cisco’s 7600 Series carrier-class edge router to offer integrated, high-density Ethernet switching, and IP/Multiple Label Protocol Switching (MPLS) routing.
“The economics of supply and demand dictate that simply offering a commodity of access alone is not enough to sustain a revenue stream. The Cisco 7600 Series will enable Neotel to generate revenue by supplying not only network access, but services that add value to that connectivity for their customers,” says Zeeman.
Dimension Data’s role will be to provide much of the equipment procurement and work together with Cisco’s Advanced Services team to deploy the Metro Ethernet network.
Jeff Jack, manager: technology and operations at Dimension Data, sees Neotel’s deployment of a next-generation network without the barriers and complexities of legacy equipment, and the prospect of true broadband with the associated services, as a tantalising one.
“The benefits of the next-generation network will be felt across the board as Neotel introduces its services. Deregulation in other parts of the world shows that increased competition allows business and consumers to enjoy more competitive prices and a broader range of services; while Neotel is unlikely to supersede the incumbent’s dominant position, the stimulatory effect on the market in terms of pricing and service availability will be considerable,” he says.
He adds that the investment necessary to establish the company is likely to have a stimulating effect across the ICT market.
“The network has to be supported by call centres, billing systems, offices and people. This is a development that South Africans have been awaiting for years and is a huge advance for the country,” Jack adds.