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Vodacom, SA’s largest mobile operator, is offering a range of packages with speeds between 5Mbit/s and 100Mbit/s, and plans to roll out FTTB to additional cities and towns that demonstrate sufficient demand.
‘Our FTTB rollout is really targeted at underserved segments of the enterprise market,’ says Vuyani Jarana, chief officer at Vodacom Business. ‘When I say underserved, I mean in terms of high-speed broadband services. Many of South Africa’s business parks are reliant on ADSL provided over copper networks. Copper has a number of limitations, including speed, susceptibility to theft and high levels of unavailability when compared to fibre.’

While technologies like VDSL make it possible to deliver higher speeds over copper, the economics of high-speed connectivity over copper make it impractical.

Jarana says Vodacom will be targeting a wide range of businesses, rather than those in specific sectors. ‘Businesses don’t operate in isolation,’ Jarana explains. ‘They have suppliers and customers, and they need to interact with their own employees, so we see FTTB as suitable for – and potentially beneficial for – all sorts of businesses.

Investing in infrastructure

Many people don’t realise how heavily Vodacom invests in infrastructure every year, or how dependent on fibre and other fixed infrastructure mobile services are. ‘Mobile networks hang on fixed ones,’ Jarana says. ‘As we rolled out fibre to our base stations we realised we could also roll out fibre services to businesses, and eventually to homes. This also allows us to service the communities near our infrastructure better and more rapidly.’

Reliable internet connectivity is also one of the things that sets developed markets apart from developing ones. Jarana says consistent, high-speed connectivity helps businesses to grow, drives efficiency, enables companies to move to cloud-based services, and allows for interaction with customers, suppliers and other partners. ‘Vodacom believes in empowering South African businesses, which is why it is committed to making fibre to the business (FTTB) a reality.’

Increasing productivity

According to Jarana, with fibre connectivity businesses of all sizes can be more productive. ‘We’re targeting small- and medium-sized enterprises specifically, because fibre penetration in that sector is especially low and because we want to offer them richer services that can help them grow.’

He adds that this is in line with the evolution underway where companies are increasingly moving to cloud and hosted services. ‘By doing so, even small companies can enjoy the benefits of economies of scale and the efficiency it brings. But this move to the cloud is only possible with an underlying network that offers high-quality, high-speed connectivity.

‘We need to bring these businesses to the mainstream of ICT and unlock its possibilities for them. That’s what I mean by offering them “rich services” – FTTB unlocks the power of video and voice for enterprise. Fibre makes it possible to use the same infrastructure for more than just connectivity or cloud services.

‘Our FTTB solution includes its own set of voice channels, meaning businesses need no longer rely on the incumbent copper network for telephony. Because of its capacity and speed, fibre makes it possible to use voice, video and data simultaneously using the same infrastructure.’

Improved mobile experiences

Jarana says fibre also has the potential to improve businesses’ mobile experiences. ‘As part of its roll-out plan, Vodacom will in the future be offering customers the option of installing additional equipment in their premises to in effect set up a dedicated mini mobile base station. This equipment, which uses the fibre connection to route cellphone traffic back into the network, will give the best possible mobile signal and eliminate any troublesome coverage spots in the office.’

Get Vodacom Broadband Connect Fibre 
For information on how to apply for Vodacom Broadband Connect Fibre and pricing information, visit http://www.vodacombusiness.co.za/business/solutions/internet/bbc-fibre 

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