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Council Proposes To Charge Internet Access Providers For Digging Fibre Trenches

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Harare City Council’s new proposed requirement on Internet Access Providers (IAP) will slowdown the roll out of fibre internet accross the country as it will significantly increase their costs. In it’s supplimentary budget, Harare City Council (HCC) proposed to introduce astronomical fees that will be charged to IAPs for digging trenches. From a Newsday report:

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ZW$50 000 per 30m or part length thereof in low density area roads and ZW$30 000 per 30m or part length thereof in high density area roads

Back in June HCC and Harare Residents Trust complained about the apparent carelessness by the IAPs of leaving some trenches not fully covered and taking too much time to cover them. So it seems like this is where the urge to charge IAPs these fees came from. From The Herald:

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The City Council is not happy with these companies that operate around the city, we give them approval to do their work and we expect them to cover up the gullies within the agreed timeframe, but unfortunately these companies are not meeting up to their end of the bargain

IAPs who dig trenches and lay cables without the permit would have to pay a fine of $100 000 for every meter.

How can IAPs deal with this

If laying down fibre optic cables underground gets prohibitively pricey owing to the fees then IAPs would have to try out two means to take Fibre-To-The-Home.

First, the IAPs would have to do aerial fibre optic installations which some IAPs in South Africa are already doing. Aerial fiber optic cable is a type of fiber optic cables that is usually used for outside installation on poles. Aerial cable’s laying method is not hard to implement as it can utilize the existing overhead poles (of Zesa for instance) to install which saves more in construction costs and shortens the construction period. However this type of installation is easily affected by heavy rains. So, the failure rate of aerial fiber optic cables are higher than buried fiber optic cables.

Secondly, IAPs can use the sewage system to roll out fibre. As gross is it probably sound, IAPs in South Africa are doing this too. Again this method utilizes the existing trenches (sewage tunnels actually) which could be cost effective.

Since the supplimentary budget was rejected by the Harare Residents Trust, it’s likely that the fees won’t be introduced anytime soon (but highly likely in the foreseeable future).


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2 thoughts on “Council Proposes To Charge Internet Access Providers For Digging Fibre Trenches

  1. Council itself should lay down fibre and rent it out to ISPs. That way even if a resident wants to switch providers, it doesn’t entail another trench digging adventure. Currently, most of these ISPs do a piss poor job of mending roads, or pavements, that they would have dug through. Either you are left with a mini hump or mini dip in the road, the latter being more common.

    In a perfect world the necessary piping/trunking for fibre, or even telephone lines, would have been laid by the city council as they were parcelling out land for residential stands. But, all they seem concerned with is collecting the revenue from stand sales, doing little themselves besides counting dollars.

    1. This. I love this idea so much. The initial capital outlay would be huge for the city council but the payoff well worth it. My main worry would be ongoing maintenance

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