Far south fibre-optic cable installation sparks debate

A fibre-optic cable inside a drain. Picture: H Plumbing/Facebook

Fibre-optic cables are being installed in city sewer and stormwater pipes in some parts of the far south.

This sparked online debate last week after a local plumber posted photos on Facebook of purple fibre-optic cables found in a Glencairn drain.

Mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Felicity Purchase, said the City did not usually allow the installation
of cables in the sewers but it had made an exception for telecoms network service provider Link Africa.

But according to the agreement, she said, Link Africa was responsible for liability and maintenance costs, municipal services had to be protected at all times and nothing could be built over the municipal services.

The traditional method of installing fibre is to cut trenches into and under city streets. But that can take its toll on the
streets, as Frogfoot, a licensed
fibre network provider, found to its cost.

The City withdrew the company’s way-leaves after it damaged water and power cables in the
valley (“City takes fibre network provider to task,”) Echo, February 28.

According to Link Africa regional manager David Ashdown, the company is the South African patent-holder for fibre-optic cable in underground systems (FOCUS), a technology, he said, with a “proven track record of harmonious integration in South African pipes”.

Link Africa had struck a deal with the City in 2016 to use FOCUS in the City’s underground infrastructure.

However, he added, that Link Africa had only made limited use of it in drought-stricken Cape Town because of the high-pressure water jetting needed to prepare the sewers and stormwater drains.

Link Africa has a core network running from Kalk Bay to Glencairn, to Fish Hoek, Kommetjie and Noordhoek.

Ms Purchase said the agreement with Link Africa had City council approval.

“While the City wants to promote connectivity as a priority to all residents, we need to care-
fully consider the unintend-
ed consequences of allowing
service providers to utilise our underground services for pur-
poses it was not designed for,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ms Purchase said Frogfoot would have to apply for new way-leaves and include a bank guarantee to cover costs of the earlier damage done to electricity infrastructure.

Frogfoot marketing manager, Kayleigh Rossler, said Frogfoot had submitted a council plan and was awaiting approval in order to continue work.

Frogfoot would also arrange for project or site managers to directly address any issues residents might have, she said.

“We are committed to adhere to requirements set out by the City and putting further measures in place to ensure that work is not halted again,” she said.

She said residents could call 021 448 7225 or email FTTH@frogfoot.com should they experience any problems. They are also available on Facebook Messenger.