Telecomms deregulation has been a long time coming and with Neotel adverts beginning to pop up on television, outdoors and in the press, many are wondering how ready the company is to deliver services. Steffano Mattielo, executive head of the enterprise group at Neotel says ‘very ready’.
The company already has customers using very big fibre-links to get their connectivity – and because the backbone has been designed with convergence in mind, it would seem like his company has one major benefit to offer, that Telkom does not.
Mattielo says that there are definite benefits a partner can bring to the table if they are offering voice and data carriage over a single set of converged infrastructure.
Through exposing voice and data connectivity as a ‘soft service’ he says that Neotel’s model ensures companies become oblivious as to how the underlying technology enables their services to work.
A customer seeking a voice line, simply requests one – and similarly, a customer seeking a data line does the same.
Because both of these services are offered over a single converged set of infrastructure, Neotel is however able to be more aggressive in its pricing.
Importantly, Mattielo says the converged nature of the infrastructure Neotel is rolling out allows it to customise services to clients’ exact needs.
The infrastructure can for example, be reconfigured according to the customer’s changing needs at specific times of day, week or month.
He says this allows customers the flexibility to gain access to more ‘data capacity’ at certain times (for example when large data transfers, like backups and offsite replication procedures are being carried out) and similarly, gain access to more ‘voice capacity’ as and when the need arises.
The fact that Neotel’s infrastructure is being built on a fibre-optic backbone adds a great deal of credence to this statement – the ability to offer a converged communications solution that is capable of delivering high-quality voice over a data network depends greatly on the volume of bandwidth available.
“Many Voice over IP solutions players have attempted to offer services with low quality codes and insufficient bandwidth,” he says, “and this only results in a low quality, unreliable service.
“With the best codecs and more than enough bandwidth however, our converged communications infrastructure offers clear, reliable voice services, in addition to sound data services,” he says.
While Neotel is not the only telco rolling fibre into the market at the moment, Mattielo says it is the only one that is laying fibre infrastructure to the curb.
“Just because most of South Africa’s roads are being dug up to lay fibre, it does not mean that end-customers are going to gain access to fibre infrastructure at the curb,” he explains.
That is because most of the fibre that is being laid today will be used for backhaul and interconnect purposes. It is predominantly designed to cater for mobile telcos’ and ISPs’ need for increased throughput between their switching stations or points of presence.
Neotel’s high-speed infrastructure however, extends directly into corporate and enterprise companies’ back yards. The company already has large customers making use of its fibre infrastructure.
“To be quite honest, we were not expecting our metro Ethernet service to be greeted with as much enthusiasm as it was.”
The company already has large customers on its books consuming massive volumes of bandwidth.
The service starts at 100 Mbps and extends all the way up to 4 Gbps, which Mattielo says some customers are quite happy to pay for.
“And we believe that we can offer as much bandwidth as our customers can foreseeably need.
“Unless a network has been architected with the intention of extending it to the curb, it will at some stage run out of capacity,” he opines.
“When we designed this network, we intended for fibre to be extended to the curb – we are confident that we have enough fibre in our architecture, that we will never run out of capacity,” he says.
It is really about time we had some tangible alternatives to Telkom’s connectivity in South Africa. And with a fibre-backbone powering the Neotel infrastructure, things look very promising. Will Neotel be capable of giving Telkom – who is well known for playing dirty and throwing its weight around – a good run for its money however?
We really hope so.