TECHNOLOGY: GIBB Completes Cape Town's Optic Fibre Project
Recent Western Cape Business News
Through the recent successful implementation of its Broadband Infrastructure project, the City of Cape Town has invested in its own telecommunications infrastructure network. This will both reduce costs and contribute towards the economic growth of Cape Town. Leading consulting engineering company, GIBB led the project management and undertook the civil engineering design and construction monitoring of the R125 million, 500 km optic fibre network project.
Currently, the City spends about R70 million a year on telecommunications costs for telephonic and data services at municipal offices. The project in its entirety included laying a network of optic fibre cables across Cape Town with sufficient capacity to meet the City’s current and future needs. Thereby ensuring that the City has access to low cost broadband services to support the delivery of municipal services and ensuring spare capacity is available to third-party network users.
The scope of GIBB’s involvement in this substantial project included the detailed design and construction monitoring of civil and switching centre infrastructure, management of the installation and testing of fibre cable, GIBB ensured that the external contractor’s activities were aligned with the greater framework of the project, within the allocated timeframe.
According to Sean Molloy, GIBB’s Integrated Infrastructure’s Project Director, GIBB’s scope of work valued at some R7 million, commenced in April 2009 and the company recently completed its allocated tasks.
“We were also tasked with designing the switching centres to serve the City’s needs and stimulate economic development. We sub-contracted Selkirk and Selkirk Consultants (to manage the switching centre design work) which was an integral link to getting the network up and running, says Molloy. The design of the switching centres consisted of appropriate IT-friendly infrastructure such as racks false floors, redundant electrical supplies and intense security systems
The City of Cape Town will not be offering ISP services itself but will be leasing excess capacity on its own network. This means that selected organisations can apply to be connected to the City’s fibre network. Thus the City of Cape Town will be enabling the market as opposed to interfering with the market as such organisations will be able to connect on to a high speed affordable broadband service.
Certain elements of the project needed to be completed in time for the World Cup, to ensure there was a network service available to the disaster management and traffic management team, to minimize disruption to traffic and prevent congestion in the City. The most project challenges arose where the project runs through Cape Town Central Business District which is an area of historic and congested services.
GIBB managed the process of co-ordinating the contractor’s activities to ensure that deadlines were met and challenges were averted or addressed.
On the outset of the project, GIBB were informed that the project needs to be completed using trenchless excavations to ensure minimal disruption to surface traffic, business, and other activities. This was not possible due to the maze of existing services under the roads and sidewalks. GIBB then engaged meetings with various road managers to resolve a way forward in undertaking open excavations.
Molloy added that this was a fantastic project for GIBB to be involved in as municipal fibre networks have the potential to reduce operational costs for cities, increase competition and improve services in the telecommunications sector. In the long run, it will also benefit community organisations, and GIBB were happy to be part of the success story.
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