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BT expands SA telecoms network

This article was posted by Editor on Feb 21st, 2012

  • BT Group

BT Group (formerly British Telecom) is expanding its presence in sub-Saharan Africa, including in SA, doubling the number of people it employs across the Middle East and Africa and investing in fibre-optic telecommunications infrastructure, the company said on Tuesday.

The new investments are meant to double the size of BT’s operations in Africa, the Middle East and Turkey. The investment follows similar programmes in the Asia-Pacific and Latin American markets.

The company intends hiring 100 new professionals in its sub-Saharan Africa office, based in Johannesburg, and will add 170 employees across the region. The plan is to introduce BT’s full portfolio of services in the region in the next 18 months.

The company cautions that it has no intention of playing in the consumer telecoms market and competing with Telkom for retail customers. Rather, its focus will remain on corporate and government clients in the region.

It is also investing in fibre infrastructure that will connect Gauteng to sub-sea cables that come ashore in the Western Cape. It has bought access to bandwidth on the FibreCo network between Johannesburg and Cape Town, construction of which must still be completed. FibreCo is a joint venture between Cell C, Dimension Data’s Internet Solutions and investment company Convergence Partners.

BT has already established a co-location network facility at Melkbosstrand, where the Sat-3 cable lands on SA’s west coast, and has acquired space in a Teraco data centre in Cape Town, from where it will provide onward connectivity to Johannesburg once the FibreCo link is completed.

It is also eyeing a link to Yzerfontein, north of Melkbosstrand, where the new, higher-capacity West African Cable System (Wacs) has come ashore. Wacs is expected to be available for commercial service in the first half of 2012.

Keith Matthews, BT’s GM for sub-Saharan Africa, says the company has acquired a “number of pairs of fibre” on the FibreCo network, which he says makes it “completely scaleable”. “We won’t have any shortage [of bandwidth], even in the distant future, in terms of what we can deliver on that infrastructure,” Matthews says.

Interconnection agreements with local partners, including Internet Solutions, will extend BT’s network reach into sub-Saharan Africa, the company says. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral