Vodacom, South Africa’s largest mobile phone operator, is poised to connect 250,000 South African households and firms to fibre broadband in the next 36 months, it said on Monday.

This emerged shortly after Vodacom said it had contracted Alcatel-Lucent to construct a “gigabit passive optical networking (GPON) solution” in Durban, Pretoria, Cape Town and Johannesburg, which are among South Africa’s major centres.

Vodacom is set to touch almost 150,000 households and 100 000 firms during this period. “We first began talking with Alcatel-Lucent about expanding Vodacom’s business into the fixed access market five years ago,” Tech24 quoted Andries Delport, Vodacom Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO), as having said.

“This was a significant move for us and required a great deal of consideration. Over time, the Alcatel-Lucent team was able to show that it was the right move for us and that their solution was the best for our needs,” said Delport. This comes at a time when the mobile operator has laid down its strategy of growing its fixed line fibre network by setting its eyes on acquiring Neotel for R7 billion ($).

But peer networks like Cell C and MTN have rejected Vodacom-Neotel transaction, saying Vodacom could become too dominant in the South African market. Public enquiries happened at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) in Johannesburg earlier this month. A decision from regulators regarding the deal has not yet been made.

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