Choosing the right fibre to the home (FTTH) supplier
Why poorly deployed services can create white elephants3rd Mar 2022
The global shift to remote working has amplified demand for fibre services over the last few months, and developments with the best connectivity are likely to be the most attractive to tomorrow’s buyer.
Deployment of fibre optic cabling is not a trivial task though and the provision of services requires technical skill and expertise.
So how do you ensure your supplier is the best for the job?
Find a supplier who speaks your language
For this to work, your fibre network operator (FNO) needs to clearly understand your requirements.
‘It is important that an estate actively engages with their service provider from the very beginning,’ says Juanita Clark, chief executive officer of Digital Council Africa, previously the Fibre to the Home Council Africa.
She suggests that developers be open and honest with suppliers and share things like infrastructure maps so that fibre suppliers can see where services are located underground and limit potential damages.
‘Complexes and estates are built like mini towns, and they naturally want to maintain the aesthetic of their premises and developers will have concerns about the proper reinstatement of things like paving and gardens after the installation is complete,’ says Bradley Bekker from Evotel, a fibre specialist.
He advises developers to check how the supplier will work with them and the HOA to ensure proper reinstatement. ‘As well as checking who their building contractors are, a developer should also be verifying whether the FNO supplier has the right coverage for your address, whether they have redundancy backup, whether the network be wall pinned or underground, and what the maximum line and exchange speed will be,’ he says.
Failing to plan, is planning to fail
Ideally, you should start planning fibre installation before construction commences says Gus van der Spek, a property developer and owner of Wytham Estate in Cape Town.
‘Planning and future proofing your build early on allows for development of infrastructure and prevents clashes with other services and structure penetrations. Post-construction installations usually result in unsightly trunking, but good planning ensure that cable runs invisible,’ he says.
Those estates who did not previously actively engage with telecommunications providers are likely to be finding providers at haste, but it is essential that they plan and prepare well.
‘Your FNO will have concerns about you as a developer too, and it is important to pay heed to these,’ says Bekker. ‘The biggest concern is ensuring the safety of contractors. Although we use trunking to protect the fibre from the elements, fibre optic cabling is made of glass and is quite fragile, and can be dangerous to physically engage with,’ he explains.
Be open, and honest with residents
The success of an installation is also largely dependent on the response from residents.
‘A big challenge for us as the FNO is managing the expectation of residents’ who do to not always understand time frames, especially when it comes to the reinstatement process,’ says Bekker.
He explains that, by law, road surfaces need to settle after being compacted before they can be tarred over again. This takes a few days, but residents are not always aware, and then get upset at the length of time it takes.
‘We work hard to ensure that we leave everything on the estate as we leave it, but we also need the developer and from HOA to do their part too,’ says Bekker. Residents, for example, need to be educated about the risks of tampering with the fibre which can cause disconnections and fatalities,’ he continues.
The responsibility of educating residents about the overall benefits of having fibre also falls on the developer and HOA says Clark.
‘Fibre can be applied for other services other than just accessing the internet and residents, especially older ones, need to understand this. It has a critical role to play in the adoption of the Internet of Things and transforming homes and communities into smart neighbourhoods and residences,’ she concludes.