The City’s project to expand the fibre-optic footprint in the central business district (CBD) will fast-track communication in the digital world as it will create faster, more secure and more efficient broadband access. It will also allow the City to provide more effective services to businesses.
The CBD Connect Pilot Project is part of the City of Cape Town’s Digital City Strategy, which seeks to put digital technology to work in order to support and improve service delivery, employment and the local economy. This project is also aligned with the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) as it will contribute towards making Cape Town a safer city, will promote better management of the urban environment within the CBD, and will improve economic opportunities within the CBD.
According to the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services, Councillor Raelene Arendse, the Connect Pilot Project speaks to the key priorities of the City of Cape Town’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan as it will ensure that the City works smarter by leveraging technology for progress and efficient service delivery. It is also about innovation and strengthening Cape Town as a forward-looking competitive business city that can compete globally.
The CBD Connect Pilot Project entails piloting the expansion of a City-owned, open-access fibre-optic network within the Cape Town CBD. It will provide reliable broadband that will have the following benefits:
- Affordable open access high-speed fibre connections to every building in the CBD, expanding economic opportunities to business and internet service providers. Business will benefit from the decreased time of service provisioning and they will have the opportunity to migrate between internet service providers
- Limit the future need for further trenching in this difficult area
- Enable free public Wi-Fi for residents, tourists and visitors in the CBD
To limit the disruption during the implementation phase, micro-trenching was used where possible. This is a method where a machine cuts into the surface instead of works teams digging up the whole pavement area.
In addition, the pilot area will also be used as a confined urban living laboratory for the City to design and test smart device solutions such as traffic light systems, water and electricity meter management systems, CCTV camera and Wi-Fi/Radio technology systems.
One of the biggest advantages of fibre-optic broadband is super-fast data transfer speeds for meeting business internet needs.
‘The digital environment is fast moving and dynamic and as a world-class city we should be able to keep developing and expanding broadband connectivity as it’s an investment in improved communication and business growth,’ said Councillor Arendse.
The City’s Cape Town Metro Area Network already consists of 848 km of fibre-optic cables and 25 switching facilities. Fibre-optic cables and microwave links are used to connect 346 City buildings at speeds of up to 1Gbps.
The City’s network infrastructure is operated on ‘open access’ principles and assists telecommunications service providers to extend the reach of their own networks to provide broadband services to their customers. The City offers related services such as co-location of equipment in switching centres and cross-connecting between the City’s network infrastructure and the clients’ network infrastructure.
The Pilot Project is in the four CBD blocks surrounded by Loop, Long, Church, Longmarket, Burg and Wale Streets. Construction work started in November last year and is scheduled to be completed by April 2018.
The Pilot Project will be used to monitor network operational results and various facets of the network to be able to establish best practice programmes. This information will be used to determine the City’s technology roll-out strategy for future roll-outs in other CBD areas across the city.