17 Sep 2012

Interview with Corning - The world's largest supplier of Optical Fibre & Workshop Sponsor of AfricaCom

1) In brief, please describe your organisation and the work it is doing in South Africa.

Corning Incorporated is the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics, the inventor of the first low-loss optical fibre and the world’s largest supplier of optical fibre. Corning optical fibre is the most widely deployed brand of optical fibre in the world, with a tremendous amount of experience working with operators who deploy optical fibre throughout the world. It only makes sense, therefore, that as South Africans go through the Information and Communications (ICT) revolution, including the deployment of fibre optic infrastructure that Corning supports them by supplying high quality fibre and offering free consultations on fibre network design. Corning has supplied most of the fibre that goes into submarine cables coming to South Africa and the sub-region and is working with most operators in the country to ensure that they deploy the most appropriate fibres that enable low overall cost of network ownership. Corning also offers South African operators free training seminars on the fundamentals of optical fibre; to register visit this website: http://www.globalcommhost.com/cof/2012events/

2) How would you sum up the characteristic of the South African telecoms, media and ICT industry this year?

The South African telecom market has remained one of the largest markets in Africa and still growing. Although about 50% of all operational fibre optic cable in Africa is in South Africa, the deployment of terrestrial long haul and metropolitan networks continues unabated. Broadband adoption continues to evolve with entrepreneurs coming up with innovative broadband applications but with a broadband penetration of less than 20% and a target broadband penetration of 100% by 2020, South Africa provides for great opportunities. South Africa   is not only attracting direct foreign investment for the deployment of telecommunication infrastructure but there are huge local investments.

3) What would you say is your organisation’s priority for 2012?

Corning’s priority for 2012 is to strengthen our relationship with operators in South Africa through our free educational seminars and assist them in designing their networks.

4)  Which type of services do you think consumers are going to be calling for in 2013?

More and more consumers will be calling for emerging broadband applications such as video streaming, money transfer, electronic newspapers, and video conferencing. It is incumbent on South African operators to move away from voice as the main source of their revenue and focus instead on these new applications as alternative sources of revenue streams. However, such applications would require high quality and high speed broadband so more focus should be placed on network quality.  We also see a tremendous adaption of broadband by the public service, including the establishment e-tolls and municipality city wide broadband networks.

5) How important do you think cost-efficiency/reduction is for service providers in South Africa this year?

With so much price pressure on many services, cost efficiency becomes imperative. However, cost efficiency does not equate to operators procuring less expensive products that may compromise reliability and functionality. In the case of network infrastructure deployed to support broadband services, a cost efficient network is one whose cost per Mb/s will decline as more and more capacity is utilised. It has become common for some operators in South Africa and Africa to select turn-key solution vendors based on the lowest cost as the most important criteria for their selection. It turns out that networks that are the cheapest to deploy on “Day One”, may turn out to be the most expensive networks to maintain and upgrade over the more than 20 year life of the networks.

6)  What do you think is needed to improve connectivity for the underserved in your market?

Since connectivity to the underserved, usually rural areas, may not make good business sense for individual operators, there has to be a concerted effort between government, operators and infrastructure companies to bring connectivity to these areas. The South African regulator, ICASA, established a regulation for all telecommunication operators to contribute to a Universal Service and Access Fund to support rural connectivity. This could go a long way to improve the status of rural connectivity.  When government departments are planning for rural electrification or developing new roads to rural areas, they have to simultaneously plan to deploy optical fibre. In Southern Africa, , through the Southern Africa Power Pool, it has become mandatory for all new power lines to be equipped with optical ground wire so that any new power lines to rural areas will carry optical fibre that will facilitate connectivity to the underserved areas. Cable can also be installed along new roads, significantly reducing the civil works cost of deploying cable

7) What do you think are the 3 key attributes needed to succeed in South Africa’s telecoms, media and ICT industry going forward?

1.       There is now adequate capacity on South African shores but more work is needed to deploy terrestrial fibre networks closer to the consumer to improve the speed and quality of broadband services.
2.       While mobile broadband will be the predominant form of broadband for the majority of South Africans, there are applications for which mobile broadband will never measure up and wire-line broadband is imperative. Therefore, as South African’s deploy next generation mobile broadband networks, fiber to the home networks and more advanced forms of XDSL, such as VDSL, should be deployed in parallel.
3.       Operators should move away from voice as their main source of revenue and embrace emerging applications such as video streaming, video conferencing, security surveillance, etc. as alternative sources of their revenue streams. Operators and entrepreneurs should create new broadband applications to solve South Africa and Africa’s unique challenges. 

8) Which key message do you want to highlight to the audience during your participation at South AfricaCom in Cape Town this September?

Corning has been in the fibre optic business for over 42 years, remaining the industry leader due to its fundamental understanding of optical fiber, high quality products, innovations, and solid business relationships. Corning understands that the highest quality network operators throughout the world are the most successful and believe that South African operators who embrace quality in their network design, deployment, and operations will succeed.

Join Corning Optical Fiber’s free seminar on fiber optics at AfricaCom

Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

As the fundamental passive carrier of all your network data, the optical fibre is one of the most important elements of a telecommunications network. The optical fibre you install today is expected to perform for 25 years or more. Therefore deciding which fibre to use is a highly important decision that determines the future performance of your network.

At the end of this seminar, the attendee will understand essential aspects of optical fibre and its application to telecommunication systems and network Design, be able to specify the most appropriate optical fibre for different telecommunications applications to ensure longevity of network performance, and be aware of the latest innovations in optical fibre technology and associated next generation optical fibers.

Who should attend?
Engineers and managers responsible for network planning and design, fibre optic specifications and cable procurement.