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06 September 2017
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
South Africa is considering a plan to merge two state-owned operators, Broadband Infraco and Sentech, as a move towards a national infrastructure company.
Though details are sketchy at the moment, Robert Nkuna,
director-general at the Department of Telecommunications and
Postal Services, said in a speech on Tuesday that the
government plans to consider a merger proposal in
"We don’t want a top-heavy company, but a company
that has sharp capacity to aggregate what exists in South
Africa so we don’t duplicate," said Nkuna, as
quoted by Reuters.
This seems to be a reversal of a plan a year ago by the South African
government to privatise Broadband Infraco.
Capacity reported in September 2016 that Vodacom and
Dark Fibre Africa were both believed to be interested in
bidding for Broadband Infraco.
Sentech is a broadcasting transmission company, hived off from
the South African Broadcasting Company in the 1990s. It carries
90% of the country’s broadcasting signals.
South Africa has a long-term plan to create a national
broadband network operator, along the lines of those in
Australia and Singapore, but more oriented to carrying mobile
services to masts.
According to Reuters, Nkuna told a parliamentary committee that
the law would need to be amended to allow for the establishment
of a national broadband network operator, with a target date of
"around 2020". It would not be a monopoly, he added.
National Broadband Network,
Dark Fibre Africa