BoFiNet, which houses Botswana Telecommunications Corporation's (BTC) backbone infrastructure under the privatisation process, was established to address wholesale customers' dissatisfaction with current fibre network wholesale offerings and services, which give the parastatal an unfair advantage.
Briefing the media yesterday, BoFiNet acting chief executive Keabetswe Segole said the structural separation exists to allow BTC to focus on downstream offerings. He said BoFiNet will improve the backbone network and wholesale market. "This is expected to improve competitiveness in the downstream telecommunications market and confidence from wholesale customers that BoFiNet acts in their interest," said Segole.
The arrival of BoFiNet on the scene means that internet service providers (ISPs) and telecommunications companies, including BTC, will openly compete for network and bandwidth supply. Segole said international capacity on both EASSy and WACS as well as unutilised fibre from BTC will be transferred to BoFiNet. He said one of the reasons BoFiNet was introduced is that the wholesale market in Botswana is generally poorly serviced and the existing fibre infrastructure is underutilised, therefore failing to maximise the investment government has made in the network.
Segole said there is also a potential for alternative revenue generation for the Botswana government through regional transit services and utilisation of excess capacity on the international assets. He explained that in the next two years there will be a lot of capacity which will result in price reduction. "While BoFiNet sells to wholesalers only, the individual consumers will experience a potential increase in service quality and speed due to the fact that BoFiNet is well equipped to handle the demand," said Segole. The operation will also improve Internet penetration, which is currently low.
Segole explained that due to the Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM), a new technology developed by BTC, BoFiNet would be able to provide a competitive edge to Internet service providers. The new technology has 24 fibre pairs - each pair carries about 40 wavelengths each running 10 GB per second. Botswana's Internet penetration stands at around 10 percent. BoFiNet is run by a board of directors appointed by the Minister of Transport and Communications and will start operating by May this year. It also has the capability to supply other regional countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia.