Taking on Telkom and Neotel with powerline broadband

There is an article in the outgoing issue of Financial Mail about Miko Rwayitare a Rwandan-born entrepreneur, who is sinking billions of his own cash into Goal Technology Solutions (he owns 66% of this Grintek Telecom spin-off) with the intention of building a telecommunications and television service based on powerline communications technologies. Here is the pitch:

Imagine a world

  • Where every power socket in your home or office is a broadband communication point, without the need for separate cabling,
  • Where Internet telephony is of high quality and does not require you to have a computer,
  • Where high quality surveillance and security systems are flexible and easy to implement,
  • Where video streaming and video-on-demand through IP TV is a reality,
  • Where broadband communications is affordable,
  • Where there is a communications network that is scalable to fit growing needs.

This future world exists today through Broadband Power Line Communication (PLC), which converts the existing electrical grid into a high-speed data, voice and video network.

This technology is not new but it has been plagued with technical issues for a little while now. According to the FM article, these issues have been resolved and GTS is on track to provide a communications service that will make Telkom’s 4Mbps service seem like dial-up.

GTS has fixed its sights firmly on Telkom (and, by industry association, Neotel) as well as Multichoice as its proposed service will offer "guaranteed minimum access speeds to subscribers of 90 Mbit/s" which is roughly 22 times faster than Telkom’s fastest ADSL. The service will be offered in conjunction with local municipalities and will take advantage of provisions in the Electronic Communications Act that permit municipalities to make use of the communications infrastructure to provide communications services to their consumers. Telkom initially cried foul over certain municipalities’ exploitation of these provisions but now seems to have adopted a more co-operative tone in light of pronouncements by the communications regulator, ICASA, that support the municipalities.

GTS will effectively bypass Telkom’s controversial hold over the lucrative ‘last mile’ of its telecommunications network that links its subscribers to the network by providing a service that runs over your powerline right into your living room and every other room with a power port. This new service will consolidate broadband, voice and high definition television at a price GTS intends to set at roughly 25% less than alternatives. The fact that this service runs over powerlines means that it could reach 80% to 90% of South African homes. The specific implementation of the technology will make use of smart devices that plug into the wall socket and configure themselves automatically with control over which services are rendered being centralised at GTS’ facilities. This means no waiting for a GTS technician to arrive at your home to set the service up and therefore the potential for a much faster and more widespread adoption by consumers.

The one big drawback is the stability of the local power grid. While Telkom experiences disruptions from time to time, this service may prove to be little more than a nice idea in areas like the Western Cape which suffers rolling blackouts from time to time. Of course no power also means more traditional telecommunications services won’t operate either so this may not be as big an issue as it may seem.

Bottom line … there is a service coming which may make Telkom and its rival, Neotel, redundant for many South Africans. Watch this space!

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Paul

Enthusiast, writer, strategist, web developer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.

7 Comments

  1. hey guys,

    im a south african, currently living in england where you can get broadband on a copper telephone, sound familiar, telcom maybe, where line speeps of up to 24mbps is avaible for get this 15.99 pounds, or up to 16mbps from sky tv (i currently work for sky broadband) for 10pounds€¦. its done a system called llu or local loop unbundling, now im not familiar with south africas phone system but my question is why is this not possible in sa, it doesnt make sense and why is slow broadband charged at extortionate rates€¦.. so anything that will get a decent speed im all for bring on bpl, but once again there is technology for instance, there are things called radio waves.. travel near enough the speed of light€¦.. not rocket science but why not use this resource to its full capabilities….

    why is south africa an apparently tring to be 1st world country left in the dark ages€¦€¦..

    till now it seems if companies such as telkom want to rip customers off as badly as they do in the communication industry, its nice to see the councils and goverment are actually willing to do something bout it, im all for bpl, if the speed of 90mbps is actually archievble and uncapped that would be great.. but is the costs so high R500 odd where all over europe its costing about R200 per month for unlimited land line calls and unlimited broadband with up to 16mbps speeds..

    in england for example a lady called margratt thatcher brought about deregulation, a legislation that stopped the abbuse of power and gas companies from providing sloppy service and charging high prices, it basically stopped the monoply of one corporation, why cant south africa deregulate the communications industry to allow for competion and to allow the end user, you and me, better service at a cost effective rate, seems like the way forward, sure telkom have set up th e infrastructure of our communication industry, but so did brittish telecoms in the uk, the have now broken down into different divisions, ie, openreach, wholesale, plan and build ect.. in the uk bb competion is fierce at the moment and the only people that benifit from this is the actual end user,

    now to combat bt in the early days another company came out called ntl: telewest, there like dstv, your phone and net all in one, through a installed fibre optic line, fibre optic lines are capable of data transfer rates of litterally 200Gbps..

    now all though the initail cost is high the return you would get from doing something similar would be hugh in the long term..

    so it would seem the munciplalities are making way forward but how long before this just becomes a state of greed and prices get out of hand again…

    im always hopefull and hope for the best as the world of communication is becoming more and more important, and is essential for business, which is essential for the goverment and just the general population… as the sasol add goes with an idea possibilties are endless… so when i return to sa next year im hoping for the best really….

  2. hey guys,

    im a south african, currently living in england where you can get broadband on a copper telephone, sound familiar, telcom maybe, where line speeps of up to 24mbps is avaible for get this 15.99 pounds, or up to 16mbps from sky tv (i currently work for sky broadband) for 10pounds€¦. its done a system called llu or local loop unbundling, now im not familiar with south africas phone system but my question is why is this not possible in sa, it doesnt make sense and why is slow broadband charged at extortionate rates€¦.. so anything that will get a decent speed im all for bring on bpl, but once again there is technology for instance, there are things called radio waves.. travel near enough the speed of light€¦.. not rocket science but why not use this resource to its full capabilities….

    why is south africa an apparently tring to be 1st world country left in the dark ages€¦€¦..

    till now it seems if companies such as telkom want to rip customers off as badly as they do in the communication industry, its nice to see the councils and goverment are actually willing to do something bout it, im all for bpl, if the speed of 90mbps is actually archievble and uncapped that would be great.. but is the costs so high R500 odd where all over europe its costing about R200 per month for unlimited land line calls and unlimited broadband with up to 16mbps speeds..

    in england for example a lady called margratt thatcher brought about deregulation, a legislation that stopped the abbuse of power and gas companies from providing sloppy service and charging high prices, it basically stopped the monoply of one corporation, why cant south africa deregulate the communications industry to allow for competion and to allow the end user, you and me, better service at a cost effective rate, seems like the way forward, sure telkom have set up th e infrastructure of our communication industry, but so did brittish telecoms in the uk, the have now broken down into different divisions, ie, openreach, wholesale, plan and build ect.. in the uk bb competion is fierce at the moment and the only people that benifit from this is the actual end user,

    now to combat bt in the early days another company came out called ntl: telewest, there like dstv, your phone and net all in one, through a installed fibre optic line, fibre optic lines are capable of data transfer rates of litterally 200Gbps..

    now all though the initail cost is high the return you would get from doing something similar would be hugh in the long term..

    so it would seem the munciplalities are making way forward but how long before this just becomes a state of greed and prices get out of hand again…

    im always hopefull and hope for the best as the world of communication is becoming more and more important, and is essential for business, which is essential for the goverment and just the general population… as the sasol add goes with an idea possibilties are endless… so when i return to sa next year im hoping for the best really….

  3. hey guys,

    im a south african, currently living in england where you can get broadband on a copper telephone, sound familiar, telcom maybe, where line speeps of up to 24mbps is avaible for get this 15.99 pounds, or up to 16mbps from sky tv (i currently work for sky broadband) for 10pounds€¦. its done a system called llu or local loop unbundling, now im not familiar with south africas phone system but my question is why is this not possible in sa, it doesnt make sense and why is slow broadband charged at extortionate rates€¦.. so anything that will get a decent speed im all for bring on bpl, but once again there is technology for instance, there are things called radio waves.. travel near enough the speed of light€¦.. not rocket science but why not use this resource to its full capabilities….

    why is south africa an apparently tring to be 1st world country left in the dark ages€¦€¦..

    till now it seems if companies such as telkom want to rip customers off as badly as they do in the communication industry, its nice to see the councils and goverment are actually willing to do something bout it, im all for bpl, if the speed of 90mbps is actually archievble and uncapped that would be great.. but is the costs so high R500 odd where all over europe its costing about R200 per month for unlimited land line calls and unlimited broadband with up to 16mbps speeds..

    in england for example a lady called margratt thatcher brought about deregulation, a legislation that stopped the abbuse of power and gas companies from providing sloppy service and charging high prices, it basically stopped the monoply of one corporation, why cant south africa deregulate the communications industry to allow for competion and to allow the end user, you and me, better service at a cost effective rate, seems like the way forward, sure telkom have set up th e infrastructure of our communication industry, but so did brittish telecoms in the uk, the have now broken down into different divisions, ie, openreach, wholesale, plan and build ect.. in the uk bb competion is fierce at the moment and the only people that benifit from this is the actual end user,

    now to combat bt in the early days another company came out called ntl: telewest, there like dstv, your phone and net all in one, through a installed fibre optic line, fibre optic lines are capable of data transfer rates of litterally 200Gbps..

    now all though the initail cost is high the return you would get from doing something similar would be hugh in the long term..

    so it would seem the munciplalities are making way forward but how long before this just becomes a state of greed and prices get out of hand again…

    im always hopefull and hope for the best as the world of communication is becoming more and more important, and is essential for business, which is essential for the goverment and just the general population… as the sasol add goes with an idea possibilties are endless… so when i return to sa next year im hoping for the best really….

What do you think?

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