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FTTH Council Africa fighting anti-optical municipal decision

By Donna Donnawitz
March 28, 2012
The Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality in South Africa recently banned all fiber to the home projects within Gauteng’s East Rand, ordering companies installing new cabling solution to fill in their trenches and move out of the region. With no reason given for the ban and little, if any, legal ability to support and enforce the measure, the ekurhuleni municipality is being pushed to remove the prohibition, TechCentral reported.

According to the news source, the FTTH Council Africa has given the municipality just days to remove their ban or risk being brought to court and more formally pressured to allow free optical network installation within the region. In an earlier interview with the news source, Ekurhuleni chief information officer Lilian Phahla explained that the ban of fiber-optic cable installation was only temporary and will likely last approximately one month.

During that time, the municipality plans to analyze the quality of the projects completed by the state and private vendors alike. However, FTTH Council Africa CEO Juanita Clark told TechCrunch the illegal act was performed without any warning or initial justification. Organizations installing FTTH infrastructure were told to pack their sites and leave, with no explanation.

Clark told the news source that there is some potential for reconciliation, but no efforts have been made as of yet to remove the ban.

"On Friday afternoon, we received a letter from the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality indicating a willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue," Clark told TechCrunch. "It did not contain a withdrawal of the illegal moratorium and the FTTH Council Africa has responded with an extension [to its court plans] to Wednesday, 28 March, at noon. No further extension will be granted."

Governmental issues play a major role in FTTH development, as a political group willing to support growth can be a boon to developers, while a municipality determined to stifle innovation can make projects difficult to complete. Regardless of how governments see FTTH, the technology is emerging as a key need across the telecommunications industry. More consumers around the world are accessing data rich applications and services that are based in the web. This is creating major bandwidth problems in traditional, copper-based telecommunications infrastructure and making the need for optical cabling installation critical. The development is not only important in mature economies, but in emerging markets as well, where rising mobile usage patterns and similar advances are making optical backhaul and FTTH key to sustained economic growth.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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