South African fibre provider targets underserved markets with new funding

A major debt finance deal promises to enable open access fibre provider MetroFibre Networx to bring more fibre connectivity to underserved markets in South Africa.

According to local press reports, major financial institution the Standard Bank Group says it has finalised a R5 billion (about US$295.5 million) debt finance package to support MetroFibre Networx’ ambitious fibre-optic data network rollout across South Africa.

The financing will be used to expand MetroFibre’s fibre connectivity into homes and businesses in underserved communities, contributing to increasing its reach by an additional 500,000 households across the country.

Metrofibre Networx, a carrier-class Ethernet (CE 3.0) infrastructure company that provides highly managed fibre optic broadband connectivity in South Africa, is one of a number of companies targeting less well-off customers.

Openserve, Frogfoot and Vumatel are among the other big names in a market where fibre network operators are cutting prices and increasing line speeds to win over customers.

News service ITWeb Africa points out that there is fierce competition driving the move into underserved markets such as townships. There also appear to be business opportunities.

On its website MetroFibre refers to its recently launched MetroConnect solution as a new “pre-paid pay-as-you-go service which provides a 20Mbps fibre connection into your home with the flexibility to top-up when you need to, for as long as you need it”.

It also describes the new service as one of the ways in which the company aims to “transcend the limitations that lock millions of South African homes out of access to fibre connectivity and leave them reliant on expensive and limited mobile connectivity”.

How long this competition can continue is unclear, though, judging from the MetroFibre Networx finance deal, there’s still a lot to play for in the market.