It seems there has been a loss of signal between fibre network supplier, Lightstruck and the Overstrand Municipality over the installation of fibre optic cables in Hermanus.
This follows a series of trenches that have been dug in Northcliff, Eastcliff and parts of the CBD over the past few weeks by the company as part of the rollout of their fibre optic network in town.
However, according to the municipality, no approval has been granted yet for any service provider to dig trenches for the installation of fibre optic cables. “We have had talks with several companies wanting to provide fibre services to residents and businesses. Because of the complex nature of delivering this service, we have decided to use the plans designed by the City of Cape Town as the basis for drawing up our plans to meet the town’s specific needs,” said Roderick Williams, the municipality’s Director of Community Services.
“This means that we are considering not to allow for single cable trenches to be dug, but rather to make provision for shared trenches where all service providers can lay their cables. For that reason, we have requested Lightstruck several times to cease their work, but they have not complied. We have even gone so far as to instruct Law Enforcement to order the sub-contractor to halt work,” said Williams.
But, it seems, Lightstruck is not prepared to do this, as according to the company they were issued with a wayleave (a special permit to lay fibre cables) by the municipality on 26 April. They continued to dig several trenches in Royal Street in the CBD on Saturday 14 September, leading the municipality, according to Williams, to the decision to prepare an application for a court interdict to stop Lightstruck from digging any further trenches.
A spokesperson for Lightstruck said they have been involved in the rollout of several similar projects and that the use of shared trenches is simply not financially viable for fibre suppliers. According to the source, the same happened in the Drakenstein Municipality, where the concept of using shared trenches was flouted at first, before the policy was changed to allow for single trenches.
Lightstruck CEO, Hannes Pieterse, said he has been in consultation with their attorneys and he, together with his legal representatives, were set to meet with representatives of the municipality on Tuesday.
Williams said all future service providers were invited to an information session at the municipality on Tuesday. “We have invited at least six companies to take part in the discussion,” he said.
Lighstruck earlier in the year said their project plan in Hermanus encapsulates 9 different areas, 163 km of trenches and 403 km of fibre cables, enabling a total of 9 628 sites to have access to their network. This represents a total investment of R155 million.
Pieterse said the company wants to have a positive working relationship with residents and the municipality. “Amongst other things we intend to provide all academic institutions in Hermanus with free fibre connections as well as creating free WIFI hotspots in Zwelihle. In addition, we have already employed 28 people during the installation phase.”