Johannesburg will be transformed into a "digital city" over the next three years, which will reduce the cost of telecommunications, improve service delivery and increase access to IT for residents.


Councillor Parks Tau, member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance & Economic Development, yesterday announced the appointment of Ericsson as the successful service provider to partner the city in its broadband network project.
The first phase of the Johannesburg Broadband Network Project (JBNP) will begin on 1 April 2009. The project aims to develop a citywide broadband network in line with international trends in municipal broadband deployment.
"We regard access to broadband as a key driver of economic growth and wealth generation. Through this initiative we will ensure that all the citizens of Joburg gain access to universally available, reliable and affordable broadband", says Tau.
"This is as essential as the provision of water and electricity and will also help improve response times to crime and emergencies because the city’s closed circuit television network will be linked."
At no additional cost to ratepayers, the JBNP is a self-funding model with a tender value of R1-billion. It aims to build a strong ICT infrastructure for the city and to bring ICT closer to citizens at a cost-effective price, by selling spare capacity to operators.
After a review of 11 respondents, Ericsson was chosen for its ability to supply an end-to-end solution, extensive experience in delivering similar networks around the world, a strong local presence and commitment to empowerment and skills transfer.
Ericsson’s core network architecture was designed to integrate with current infrastructure, allowing the deployment of a full wireless network supported by power line communications and container kiosks to ensure that transmission can be directed to points that would otherwise be difficult and expensive to serve.
Ericsson has partnered with several local BEE companies to operate and manage the multi-play communications infrastructure network for the next five years.
"From the outset, the cty has focused its efforts in finding a partner who not only has the technical and commercial credentials to deliver on an initiative of this magnitude but also supports the balanced and shared rollout the City of Joburg requires to increase and accelerate universal affordable broadband access,"ays Jason Ngobeni executive director for economic development in the city.
"The benefits and possibilities of a digital city are numerous for not only the City and its entities but for residents, business, hospitals, educational institutions, tourism and entertainment."
He says teleworking, video conferencing and WiFi hotspots will alleviate traffic congestion and save costs. Video streaming, Internet access and online applications will facilitate information sharing, stimulate socio economic development and improve health services and security.
“We are thoroughly delighted to have been awarded the tender and tasked with providing high-speed internet access to Johannesburg’s three million plus citizens,” says Jan Embro, President at Ericsson’s market unit sub-Saharan Africa. “Not only is the prospect of transforming Johannesburg into a truly ‘digital city’ an exciting one, the awarding of the tender is further confirmation of Ericsson’s proven ability to provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions that meet the needs of both telco and non-telco customers.”