WIOCC building Johannesburg metro network with 39 PoPs

WIOCC is building a large forty PoP metro network for the South African city of Johannesburg.

Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC, Johannesburg has told Capacity that WIOCC is building a large forty PoP (Point of Presence) metro network for the South African city of Johannesburg. This forty PoP metro network will give WIOCC access to thousands of buildings and bring them on-net and capable of delivering WIOCC’s international carrier business to their end customers doorsteps.

SOUTHThe Johannesburg metro network has three core PoPs and over 39 aggregation and customer provided (CPE) PoPs making it the largest metro network in Africa. The network covers all of the main business areas of the city. Wood said: “We are buying dark fibre from Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) and that is what the 39 PoPs are being built around. This is what we need to be doing for our customers and for their enterprise clients. We are not entering the enterprise space – we are driving traffic to our core assets and the enterprise nearer to their clients.”

The amount of capacity used by the WIOCC consortium’s members and customers has doubled in volume in the last 12 months and he thinks that this volume of growth will grow over the next few months, probably doubling every nine months for the foreseeable future.

Wood made it clear that this foray into metro networks was just the beginning and that they will be working on further metro networks in the near future.

Wood made it very clear that WIOCC is not targeting the enterprise space – rather they are enabling their customers to get there. “The market is changing considerably in terms of what our customers want. So therefore, our role now is changing – the industry in Africa is becoming a lot more complex – we have to take our customers deeper into Africa. Whereas in the past our customers were looking for point-to-point bandwidth; then point-to-point bandwidth with a bit of redundancy and now its seamless protection. Moving forward they are all building more complex network solutions for their enterprise customers.”

The Johannesburg metro network will be completed by the third quarter of this year.

WIOCC CEO Chris Wood Bullish About Africa’s International Bandwidth Growth

London – Africa’s international bandwidth markets are experiencing another growth bump with the roll-out of LTE moving ahead apace. Whereas the minimum unit to buy was an E1, it’s now an STM1. Russell Southwood spoke to Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC about how he sees the market.

WIOCC’s Chris Wood told me that he was building out metronets in Johannesburg: ”We’re buying (dark fibre) from DFA and we’ll launch 39 PoPs around that. This is exactly what we want to be doing. We’re not making money from it but driving traffic onto our core assets.”

The amount of capacity used by his consortium’s members and its customers has doubled in volume in the last 12 months and he thinks that this kind of growth will continue over the next 5 years.

Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC

“This growth is driven in the final instance by local access networks. The higher the broadband speeds, the more people will use them. The big content players have all come to the continent to build their business here: Netflix, Amazon, Facebook and Google. AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all want to bring Africa into the mainstream of their networks. 4G plays into that. 5G is coming. Most end-users are accessing content on mobile devices and the price of handsets has come down. High capacity demand (also) comes with Fibre-To-The-Home. The difference is dramatic. In Kenya you’ve got four players doing this: Wananchi, FON, Jamii and Liquid Telecom. Most housing estates of a certain level – professionals – are fibre connected. I have 27 mbps coming into my house and can stream TV, both locally and internationally.” The impact of 4G and FTTH is that operators are now buying STM16s and not STM4s or STM1s.

The above might sound very uplifting but what about a smaller and more challenging market like Somalia? ”We went live there in February 2014. Volumes have been doubling every 6 months. We’ve just sold an STM16 and there’s about 10 Gbps in service in Mogadishu and that will probably double between now and the end of the year. There are metronets around Mogadishu and all the mobile networks are 3G. People are getting online at an affordable level.”

One impact of the rise in volumes sold has been a pattern of falling prices. The most dramatic illustration of this is at wholesale level (STM16-STM64), prices in South Africa have fallen to US$5 per mbps. Sadly, some of us are old enough to remember when such bandwidth used to cost thousands of dollars per Mbps. It is a sign of Africa’s online growth that prices are falling and volumes growing. It’s not easy for cable operators but great news for Africa’s Internet users. Obviously prices remain higher in harder to reach countries like DRC, particularly its eastern half. I met a colleague from Goma this week who told me that mobile operators there had actually put up retail mobile internet access prices. As Sci-Fi writer William Gibson says: “The future’s already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”

But the dramatic fall in prices – particularly in South Africa – makes Wood skeptical of the new international fibre projects recently announced: ”With these low South Africa rates, you’re already below build costs. EASSy will add 2 Tbps next year for a few million dollars. (The fibre projects) from Africa One and Liquid Telecom don’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s a $200 million system that needs to recover it’s money over a 3-4 year period. I can’t see that being possible in Africa over that time. You can buy an IRU on any system at very competitive rates. If they get built, cable prices will go down faster and it’s more than the market can soak up.”

In addition to these two new cables, the Angola Cables project from Angola to Brazil (with a Miami link) was confirmed at ITW, the long awaited phase two extension of ACE to South Africa is happening and there will be an upgrade on WACS.

He’s also clear that there should be a solution to the spate of international cable outages there have been: “We all need to buy from every system. Big operators can easily swop capacity.”And the saddest story? Eritrea: ”It’s a sad case. We have tried over the years to get them to join WIOCC. It’s the only country without international fibre. Other routes also made offers and they were not taken up. They need to take advantage of them as no-one will build to their door otherwise.”

Alcatel-Lucent to upgrade EASSy submarine cable system along Africa’s eastern and southern coast

Upgrade to 10,000km subsea system linking South Africa to Sudan will further boost ultra-broadband capacity and strengthen onward connectivity between eastern & southern Africa and Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Paris, January 22, 2014 — Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) is to upgrade the EASSy submarine cable system, one of the largest and most modern systems serving Africa, with the deployment of the latest 100 gigabit-per-second (Gbit/s) technology.

Alcatel-Lucent‘s 100G technology will enable the system to ultimately carry capacity in excess of 10Tbit/s, further complementing its ability to carry high volumes of data capacity on the EASSy system, which runs 10,000km from South Africa to Sudan, in support of the continued explosion of data traffic in Africa. Alcatel-Lucent will leverage its unmatched experience of deployments around Africa to provide this upgrade within EASSy’s requested timeframe.

EASSy is owned and operated by a group of 17 African and international shareholders – all telecommunications operators and service providers. The system is implemented in a protected ring configuration linking eight countries from Sudan to South Africa, via Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Comores and Mozambique. Landings are located in Port Sudan, Djibouti (Djibouti), Mombasa (Kenya), Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), Moroni (Comores), Toliary (Madagascar), Maputo (Mozambique) and Mtunzini (South Africa). The system also addresses a wide range of international destinations through interconnection with multiple international submarine cable networks for diverse, seamless onward connectivity to Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia.

Chris Wood, Chairman of the EASSy Management Committee said: “Since EASSy entered service in 2010, we have seen enormous growth in demand for capacity on the system, reflecting the service quality and reliability that we have been able to offer. This upgrade will add an additional 400Gbps of capacity throughout the system, using Alcatel-Lucent’s advanced coherent 100Gbit/s technology, and enables us to take a further step in offering our customers the ultra-broadband capacity needed for innovative services and applications.”

Philippe Dumont, President of Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks, said: “We are pleased to continue our cooperation with EASSy owners following the initial deployment and subsequent upgrades to higher speeds. With staged upgrades until now, this latest upgrade using our 100Gbit/s technology confirms Alcatel-Lucent as the leading innovation partner to address evolving connectivity needs over time whilst meeting the low-latency and the resilience requirements that our customers demand.”

WIOCC shortlisted for Best Pan-African Initiative at AfricaCom

Africa’s carriers’ carrier WIOCC has been shortlisted in the Best Pan-African Initiative at this year’s AfricaCom Awards (www.africacomawards.com), which celebrate and reward excellence in African Telecoms, Media and ICT markets.

WIOCC received this accolade for not only building the first truly seamless, diversity-rich, low latency, high-capacity, international connectivity ‘ring’ around Africa’, but also for its unparalleled 50,000+ km fibre-optic terrestrial network.

The winner will be announced at the 5th Annual AfricaCom Awards Dinner, which takes place on 14th November at the Waterfront LookOut, Granger Bay, in Cape Town.

Anyone attending AfricaCom (13th to 15th November, in the CTICC in Cape Town) who is  interested in finding out how WIOCC’s international submarine ‘ring around Africa’ and unique terrestrial footprint could help their organisation, should visit our stand, A1, and speak with one of the team. Alternatively, send us an email at info@wiocc.net and we’ll come straight back to you.

Meet WIOCC at Africa Com ’11 – 9th & 10th November

Africa Com returns to Cape Town on 9th & 10th November, 2011. The conference will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), South Africa and is the largest communications conference and exhibition in the continent, gathering together 5,000+ telecoms decision-makers.

The core of the event for WIOCC is networking, so we are looking forward to welcoming visitors/delegates to our exhibition stand (#A17 and #A26 – A27) and ensuring that you meet key representatives from our company. WIOCC’s team is led by Chris Wood (WIOCC CEO) and includes Ryan Sher (COO), Hitesh Desai (Country Manager, S. Africa), Marcel Bhatti (Sales Manager, S.Africa) and Winnie Karisa (Marketing Assistant & PA to the CEO).

Please visit the WIOCC exhibition stand  at the event to find out more about our network, our service offerings – including connectivity on EIG and WACS – and what we can do for your business.  This is a great place for you to exchange ideas with our executive team and to get your questions answered face-to-face.

To book a meeting or for more information, please email us at: info@wiocc.net