SALDANHA BAY MUNICIPALITY AT THE FOREFRONT OF IMPLEMENTING NEXT-GENERATION TECHNOLOGY – FIBRE INFRASTRUCTURE TAKING SHAPE
In the wake of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR or Industry 4.0, it has become inevitable for governments to become part of this rapidly growing development. With its finger on the pulse of a changing, technology driven, global environment, Saldanha Bay Municipality recognises the value that 4IR can bring to enhance the lives of its residents through e-government services, smart resource management, safety, artificial intelligence (AI) and many other value-added services.
Saldanha Bay Municipality strives to be innovative and at the forefront of technology and to this effect, it embraced the challenge of getting our municipal area ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and to enable our citizens to take up the opportunities and enhancements that 4IR brings.
Traditional methods for telecommunication services deployment is driven largely by uptake or potential uptake. For maximum uptake, large citizen or potential user numbers are required within the medium to high income groups or a large industry footprint is a prerequisite to justify the roll-out of, for example, fibre infrastructure within a municipal area. Whilst from a commercial point of view, this concept is understood, however, it did not support the vision that Council had for improved connectivity in the Saldanha Bay Municipal area at large. The only resolve seemed to be that the municipality itself had to drive fibre installation from a basic infrastructure perspective in order to give access to all its citizens. A model driven by basic need for decent connectivity, rather than by uptake and the potential to earn return on investment was adopted. This new model or project was coined BAOBAB since it turns the traditional model upside down – similar to the burly baobab tree that looks like it is growing with its routes above ground.
The mistake is often made to adopt technologies without due consideration for the back-end infrastructure that exists, to support new technologies. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is no different. Many countries will be left behind due to lack of infrastructure geared to support the impact of 4IR. Weary nót to fall behind and to remain receptive to all opportunities that modern-day technology is offering, Saldanha Bay Municipality actively, in a responsible and sustainable manner, embarked on the journey to establish an innovative, next generation infrastructure that will provide an open access fibre network utility which will be available to all consumers within the municipal boundaries. Saldanha Bay Municipality is proud to proclaim that it is currently the only municipality in South Africa that has tackled the challenge of data network connectivity within its communities.
In order to further invest in the success of the project, Saldanha Bay Municipality proactively built a “proof of concept network” that tested the viability of creating fibre as a utility service, designed to connecting every single household within the municipal area.
This infrastructure and system will in future deliver sustainable, scalable and replicable local programmes and projects that will directly support the following “SBM Game Changer Objectives,” namely:
- Stimulate and support economic development and growth;
- Deliver service that shows customer care;
- Next generation fibre infrastructure as a utility will place Saldanha Bay Municipality at the forefront of technology and innovation;
- The digital platform will allow you to drive a cleanliness programme across multiple digital channels;
- The Open Access Network (OAN) platform and its broad technology capabilities will create new opportunities for the community, whereas a cost-effective utility is provisioned for delivery of an extensive layer of services such as Internet Service providers (ISPs), content, education, utility management (for example water and electricity), security and the internet of things (IoT).
- The spare capacity of the network will be made available to all internet service providers who have the required licensing to operate as an open access network supplier and that will enable them to provide services to all our residents. Saldanha Bay Municipality, through its BAOBAB project, will be connecting all households to this fibre network.
Some of the key advantages of this project are:
- Freedom to choose you provider – open access infrastructure is open to all.
- Reduced cost of communication – 48% of the cost is for the physical network installation.
- Easy to switch between providers.
- Allows for better e-government solutions.
- Makes cross subsidising lower income groups possible for the municipality.
- Smart city/town concepts.
- Revenue enhancement.
- Better broadband penetration and uptake.
- Municipal owned television stations.
With COVID-19 we have already ascertained a boom in the local property market, marking a trend where people are moving from busy urban areas to coastal towns and rural areas where they can experience a more serene lifestyle. People have realised that they can work from anywhere in the world if they are able to be connected. We must therefore actively address improvement of the connectivity issues in the area; project BAOBAB aims to meet this challenge. The dream of a connected, digitised municipality is fast becoming a reality!
Additional spin-offs of Project BAOBAB:
- Temporary work and permanent jobs will be created over the life cycle of this project.
- Skills transfer and training of local workers will be done to ensure that competent and well-trained resources are available to maintain the network over a very long term.
- Local businesses are encouraged to participate with the projects and business owners are encouraged to contact the Baobab Program Office in this regard at E-mail: email@example.com
- The Saldanha Bay Municipal ward councillors will be fully versed with the most important project elements to ensure that the local communities are able to reap the full benefits of what the project has to offer.
- In March 2022 the Baobab team will launch the Saldanha Bay Municipality Mobile Citizen Application. This will include communication across social media platforms.
- From March 2022 roadshows within the different municipal towns will commence. Activities will include public community meetings to be hosted in each town where members of the public will be briefed in person about the various aspects of the project. The value and benefits of the Baobab Project will be discussed and explained to interested parties.
It is important to note that any individual, groups or businesses that illegally engage with the project, performing unauthorised and illegal trenching work in the municipal area, without the necessary Wayleave approvals, will be acted upon. No construction or other work that will negatively impact on the execution of the BAOBAB project, where an official appointment letter by First in Fibre Optics (Pty) Ltd. cannot be presented, will not be allowed. Such activities will need to be reported to Saldanha Bay Municipality Law Enforcement Agencies. Interested parties who would like to become involved with the further execution and/or civil works that entails the project, can send an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance and consideration.
Saldanha Bay Municipality
Communications and Public Relations
Enquiries: E-mail to email@example.com