Under the patronage of Dr Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Andile Ngcaba, President FTTX Council Africa, the CEO Juanita Clark and other dignitaries, the 6th Annual FTTX Council Africa Conference was held at the CTICC, Cape Town, from 3 to 5 October 2017.
This event is Africa’s largest gathering solely devoted to the various disciplines of fibre optic infrastructure. The conference provides an exclusive and targeted two-and-a-half days of intensive plenary and technical workshops as well as a platform for business networking and market exploration – designed for the exchange of ideas, the discovery of new opportunities and to broaden knowledge of the industry.
The delegate list comprised telecommunication professionals, policymakers, business development experts, communities and property managers; the conference gathered close to 700 delegates and more than 30 sponsors and exhibitors from all over the world.
The 2017 theme of the conference, ‘Tomorrow is now’, explored the 4th Industrial Revolution and the global digital economy. Fibre optics is one of the key drivers of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and the Industrial Internet, Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data rely heavily on optics as a platform.
Today fibre optics is an integral part of real estate and the wider property sector, and many new technologies will rely on the infrastructure in the near future.
With this understanding in mind, and in conjuction with Estate Living, this year’s conference included a breakaway workshop focused on residential community management and property developers.
The workshop offered a ‘round table’ discussion, where experts from infrastructure installation to open access and best practice shared their insight with the delegates. Steyn City’s Carlo Cecchi presented the progressive approach Steyn City has adopted to owning their infrastructure. Riaan Swanepool from Central Development shared some important lessons learnt on retrofitting your development with fibre and managing service providers.
“I found the developers’ presentations most relevant,” commented Jacobus Murray, from the Groenkloof Retirement Village, in George. “Nothing to sell, no toes to step on, just saying it like it is. Their experience brought good perspective to what we are doing, for example to own or not to own the fibre and the GPON. The information was very practical and easy to follow,”
The conference was once again the platform where the technology was discussed, including what this means for the future. The supporting exhibition covered over 2 000 square metres of exhibition space and offered companies an opportunity to raise awareness of their products and services and build better relations with potential and existing customers.
The presentations were tailored to ensure that all delegates derived value from their attendance; whether they were highly technical or simply interested in the world of FTTH, participants could find a stream to discuss the technology in a way that made sense to them.
Additionally, the sponsor presentations touched on slightly more technical solutions and case studies, as well as business models and panel discussions by some of the best speakers in the world.
This year also saw the organisation’s name change from FTTH (which stands for Fibre To The Home) to FTTX (which stands for Fibre to the X – X implying anywhere). The FTTX Council’s belief is, and will always be, that the only sustainable infrastructure that will serve the future needs of society will be fibre.
In the opening session, the president said that whilst the name ‘FTTH’ suggests that it is an organisation whose focus is solely on deploying fibre to the homes, it wants to be seen to be inclusive of all technologies that rely on fibre as part of its architecture, and that the organisation hopes to encourage tower companies, fixed wireless and Wi-Fi providers as well
as satellite companies to join them in their endeavours to ensure that high-speed broadband is provided to each and every citizen.
A highly successful event, the 2017 edition of the conference brought together peers, ensured world-class debates with expert speakers, and provided highest-level networking opportunities.
At the closing of the event the CEO, Juanita Clark, made a striking remark: “Technology gives us the power and freedom to change our circumstances and the world around us. Technology will allow us to lead healthier and safer lives. The sole aim of technological advancement must be to serve the greater good of humanity, always. We believe this to be true, and for this reason we will continue to work tirelessly to see the adoption of high-speed broadband networks across the continent of Africa.”