Table View feels need for speed

Athina May

Table View residents are pushing for fibre-optic cable to be laid in the area to boost internet connectivity speeds and make lag a distant, albeit painful, memory.

Fibre-optics uses light pulses in flexible glass fibres to transmit data up to speeds of 100 megabytes per second (Mbs) as opposed to the 4 Mbs you can expect to squeeze out of standard ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), using slower electrical transmission in copper cable.

Fibre-optics’ speeds and durability improves long-distance telecommunication and creates the sort of high-speed data connections needed to stream high-definition video, handle video conferencing, enjoy online gaming and effortlessly send and receive large work documents and images.

Using ADSL to dowload a movie can take more than half an hour. With fibre-optic connections, it can take less than a minute.

Fibre-optic infrastructure has already been installed in various spots around the city, including several poorer neighbourhoods such as Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain and Atlantis to ensure internet connectivity where commercial internet may be too expensive.

Now Table View may be next in line for the technology, if the Table View Fibre group, started on Facebook by Glen Verran to gather support for the initiative, has its way.

“It’s something our community needs, so I stepped up to the plate. In the back of my mind, I knew that communities in Parkhurst, Johannesburg and Constantia were doing the same thing and had their proposals approved, so I researched various companies who installed optic fibre, and appointed Frogfoot Network,” said Mr Verran.

He added, “Frogfoot has an open access level network and has worked on the project rolling out in Constantia.”

“I thought it is something we have to do in Table View. I have been part of the neighbourhood watch, and I knew a lot of people who wanted it. The fibre will enable CCTV cameras to connect to the fibre via wireless network. There are a lot of benefits there and it is funded by Frogfoot Network. Residents can choose their ISP (internet service provider) of choice.”

The project proposes to divide areas in and around Table View into zones, which will then have fibre-optic cables installed at different stages, and different methods will be used to install the cable depending on the approval granted by the City.

Frogfoot Network spokeswoman Liana Clarke said optic cables could be laid using traditional trenching, which requires digging into infrastructure; overhead; or using micro trenching, which was minimally invasive.

ISP’s such as Mweb, Web Africa and could offer packages to residents at various prices, and the ISP would pay Frogfoot to use the fibre connection.

“Frogfoot would like to do micro trenching in Table View, but the municipality is not used to it and they’re cautious of it. There has been a lot of to-and-fro negotiations with the City, so we have to work to prove to the City that it can be done without damaging services,” said Ms Clarke.

The City recently gave Link Africa the go-ahead to lay fibre cables in sewers, which is less invasive, however, they are the only company with permission to use this method. Frogfoot Network hopes to start trenching in the next month with traditional trenching in certain areas and hopes to deploy a proof of concept, by using micro trenching on private properties in Table View for the City to observe how the method works.

Posting on the Facebook group, resident Wade Nel said he was pessimistic about the initiative, as it would not cover all areas.

“My community with over 500 houses have gone through everything to try get fibre installed, from signing petitions yet, fibre is not going into the middle of Parklands.”

Charl Truter said: “This is great news. I’m in zone 1 and can’t wait to replace my ADSL and WISP (wireless internet service provider) with fibre.” Brett Ross also commented saying, “Well that sucks. I am literally across the road from zone 1.”

Dario Matonicki said: “Overall this is good news. Once ground is broken, it is not relevant who is in which zone and which one is first. Micro-trenching is relatively fast way of deploying fibre, so we can expect some rapid progress. What we need to do is start talking to our neighbours and stoking interest.”

Although some residents are sceptical about the initiative, many seem to think the roll-out of fibre will benefit the whole community.

Xanthea Limberg, the City’s mayoral committee member for corporate services and compliance, said City officials from the telecommunications department had met with Frogfoot.

“The City has some optic fibre in the Table View area, along the R27 and the M5 to support the MyCiTi bus stations. The City will progressively connect every municipal building in Cape Town, including those in Table View, with fibre-optics.”

“But please note that the City has no plans to install optic fibre to private residential homes. Hence, companies such as Frogfoot are looking for opportunities to meet such demand themselves. The telecommunications department is in favor of using this technology and is currently engaged in some micro-trenching trial projects with the relevant department,” said Ms Limberg.

Ms Limberg said that the City’s digital strategy viewed broadband connectivity as a critical component in building a competitive city, and the City had adopted a vision to make Cape Town the most digitally connected city in Africa.

“The installation of fibre-optics by either the City or the private sector is therefore to be welcomed, provided that it is done to the required standards,” she said.

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