Widespread fibre network to connect SA’s universities

  • Dark Fibre Africa says it will deploy a fibre network that will interconnect between South Africa’s myriad universities and TVET colleges.
  • This comes as a partnership between the network infrastructure provider and public education entities such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the South African National Research Network (SANReN), and the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET).
  • Students at these universities will be able to benefit from faster internet speeds and a more reliable connection, even during power outages.


Dark Fibre Africa tells Hypertext that all public universities will be connected by a fibre network that will be supported by the firm’s vast fibre infrastructure. The underlying infrastructure will be fibre with various internet connectivity options for the students at a Campus level.

A phased approach will be taken when it comes to the rollout of these services at universities, subject to budgetary allocations and demand needs at the time. Public universities will be first, followed by TVET colleges.

Dark Fibre Africa says it can’t comment on what the initiative is costing the government.

Original article follows:

A new private-public collaboration between one of South Africa’s largest fibre internet network providers, Dark Fibre Africa, and three public higher education and science institutes aims to bring widespread fibre connectivity to universities across South Africa.

According to Praveen Govender, chief sales and marketing officer at Dark Fibre Africa, pictured in the cover image, the primary focus of this project is to reduce the digital disparities among universities, ensuring that every institution (and student) has access to state-of-the-art connectivity resources.

Dark Fibre Africa has joined up with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the South African National Research Network (SANReN), and the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET) to launch this initiative.

Both universities and technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges are set to benefit, as Dark Fibre Africa says the project involves deploying fibre optic networks to interconnect universities and upgrading existing network infrastructure.

“This partnership empowers universities with greater control over their networks, ensuring faster and more reliable connectivity,” explains the fibre providers in a press release sent to Hypertext.

Govender adds that the network deployment will enable these tertiary institutes “…to harness the full potential of digital learning with seamless access to online learning materials, advanced research tools, and remote collaboration across institutions.”

Some benefits of this interconnected fibre network between colleges and varsities include more reliable connectivity, even during loadshedding, as well as faster internet speeds on campus.

“We believe this collaborative effort will not only solely benefit academia but will pave the way for improved service delivery by government agencies and opens doors for economic growth. As DFA rolls out its network backbone, other enterprises and organisations will gain access to high-speed connections, enabling them to serve their communities more effectively as well,” said Sabelo Dlamini, director at SANReN.

The “backbone” that Dlamini refers to is a countrywide upgrade of existing fibre infrastructure by Dark Fibre Africa and Vumatel. The firm is investing R400 million towards it and it will take 18 months to complete.

While the announcement of the university fibre coverage is welcome given the number of students whose only access to the internet is directly on campus and will no doubt benefit from latency reduction, there are still many questions unanswered.

These include what the actual roll-out will look like, what is the timeline for the rollout, how much will it cost the government and who is set to benefit first. We have reached out to Dark Fibre Africa for answers.

[Image – Provided]


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