Fibre Internet for Kensington – Update – 15-March-2018

Residents have seen the poles going up – Fibre internet is on the way.

In light of media reports about the legality of Vumatel’s use of City Power street poles for aerial fibre, the KRRA reached out to Vumatel. Below is their response as well as the KRRA’s responses to questions that may be on some residents’ minds:

 KRRA: Can we please get a statement about the media reports over the last few days that state that Vumatel’s use of City Power street poles is illegal?

 Vumatel: Please note that the allegations against Vumatel made in the press are untrue and we are trying to engage with the City directly to understand their perspective and move this conversation into one that is productive, engaging and not a means to generate untruthful and harmful publicity.

A quick Google search will show you that the founder of Vumatel is Niel Schoeman and we are further backed by Standard Bank and Investec. This is public knowledge and Vumatel is an honest, well-run, ethical business. We have connected almost 300 000 homes to fibre, so trust us when we say, we know what we are doing and this is not a “third-world job”. We are only trying to launch Kensington into the “first world” by providing you with world-class infrastructure that many first world countries don’t even have access to. The community has been in full support of this project and we hope that your suburb will benefit greatly from the massive investment we are making into your area.

KRRA: With the poles going up in Kensington this week, can you please confirm how this will affect the protected trees in Kensington?

Vumatel: Vumatel hides the poles within the tree coverage to make the poles more discreet. Vumatel will never damage or cut down a tree. We might trim a branch to ensure a clear path for the fibre and all fibre is covered in a protective sheath to protect it from external substances such as UV rays, branches etc.

Q: Does the KRRA have an interest in Vumatel?

KRRA: No. The KRRA is composed solely of volunteers that receive no payment, gratuity or gifts from the KRRA itself or from any third party for work done on behalf of the KRRA.

Q: What does the KRRA get out of bringing fibre to Kensington?

A: As with all the initiatives that the KRRA is working on, the members of the KRRA committee give freely of their time and energy because they they know that residents need to act together to uplift the greater community of Kensington. We need all the help we can get and welcome all residents to join us at our monthly meetings at the Kensington Bowls Club in Ivanhoe Street on the first Wednesday of every month. You can get a view of the initiatives that we’re busy with – aside from fibre internet – on the KRRA Initiatives page:

Q: Why did the KRRA choose Vumatel?

A1: Fibre for Kensington has been more than three years in the making. In this time, residents as well as the KRRA approached multiple service providers that initially promised to trench fibre through Kensington. Those providers all reconsidered their plans when they realized what a massive undertaking it would be given Kensington’s size, geographical layout and aging water, sewage and electricity infrastructure – all of which could be very easily damaged by trenching.

A2: Vumatel was also not initially keen on coming in for those reasons as well as the fact that Kensington falls on the wrong side of the Living Standards Measure (LSM) that is used by infrastructure providers to see if there’s enough possible business in an area to justify the investment. The actions of the KRRA in canvassing interest from residents, as well as our ward councillors hounding them, got them to agree to come to Kensington.

Q: Why does Kensington need fibre internet? Wireless solutions, Telkom, etc are so much better

A: Wireless solutions are expensive. More expensive than fibre to the home. They are also less reliable than fibre. As for Telkom, they LITERALLY abandoned a whole chunk of Kensington over 8 years ago after they got tired of replacing copper cables that were being stolen. These residents were left with no landlines or internet for more than 8 years. One of these “abandoned” sections is in a particularly hilly area, so they cannot even get wireless solutions to work. We’re thinking about the wider community – from an access and affordability perspective.

Q: Why is the KRRA allowing Vumatel to create a monopoly for fibre internet in Kensington?

A: We’re not. Vumatel is simply the only fibre provider that is willing to come into Kensington. The nature of the industry in SA however, is that other fibre providers will soon follow where Vumatel goes first. We’ve seen this happen in Observatory.

Note: Most infrastructure providers abuse the interpretation of Section 22(1) of the Electronic Communications Act of 2005 and use their interpretation to mean that they can put up infrastructure (poles) wherever they want without consulting with residents. MTN, Vodacom and Telkom have all done this. (Have you seen Telkom’s concrete manhole covers?)

Vumatel is the ONLY provider that does pubic consultation.

Get ready – other providers are coming and we won’t even know about it until they put up multiple poles outside your properties without a public meeting or your permission.

Q: What will fibre internet cost once Vumatel has finished rolling out?

A: With more than 35 Internet Service providers (ISP’s) registered to use Vumatel’s network, pricing can vary widely, starting at around R450 a month for a 4mb/s line, however there are very IMPORTANT COSTS TO NOTE:

  • Vumatel will charge you R1710 to install a small box in your house that connects you to the pole outside your house.
  • After this, all ISP’s charge a once-off Activation fee of R999 and then a monthly fee to access the internet.
  • Some ISP’s will cover the R1710 Installation cost or waiver the R999 Activation fee if you sign a fixed-term contract with them.