Over the past months, the Hermanus Central Business District from Eastcliff Spar to Northcliff has been filled with the sounds and dust of the roads being chopped up and blue tubes filled with fibre optic cables being installed.

This week, the first section of the fibre network covering R20 million of the total planned R150 million investment by Lightstruck will go live. The first 1 500 properties are now fibre ready and the first 300 customers will soon be connected.

“Hermanus now has an underlying world-class smart city fibre network infrastructure that matches its international ambitions as a UNESCO Creative City and it is up to residents to embrace the opportunities that will now be unleashed,” says Hannes Pieterse, the CEO of Lightstruck, a fibre installation company that focuses on developing last-mile fibre networks across Southern Africa.

“As Hermanus celebrates its UNESCO designation, residents can also celebrate that they now have the top possible network with end-to-end fibre from their properties and businesses in Hermanus all the way to Europe. The impact of this will positively affect the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the town,” says Pieterse.

“Compared to legacy services in town like copper ADSL and Wireless internet running at speeds of 2 – 10 Mbps (Megabits per second) the Lightstruck fibre network gives residents access to speeds ranging from 20 – 1 000 Mbps and faster. We believe that if the town’s residents build their digital strategies around this network, it will have a huge impact on their daily lives.”

“Businesses in Hermanus can now offer an international experience to international clients, and optimise their operations with high-speed connectivity,” adds Pieterse.

Fibre is called the end-game technology since it is made of pure glass and the data is carried at the speed of light (299, 792 km per second). It is not temperamental in weather like other technologies.

In the next months, Lightstruck will continue installing their fibre network in line with Overstrand Municipality’s new Scope of Works across all of Hermanus. While areas like Zwelihle have not been included in the initial fibre network installation plans, Pieterse says that they are planning on rolling out cost-effective WiFi in these areas and hope to subsidise the monthly cost with the help of local ISPs and partners. This project is planned for the 2nd quarter of 2020.

Pieterse believes that Hermanus will benefit most if there is a single, quality network in a town built on open access principles that is available to all internet service and network providers. This means that businesses and residents will have a choice of companies to sign a contract with and will probably be able to upgrade using their existing Internet Service Provider (ISP). With open access, Lightstruck is the infrastructure provider who also maintains the network.

“Lightstruck and participating ISPs are also offering qualifying schools in Hermanus a FREE 100 Mbps internet service to the value of about R5 000 a month.

“We are in the planning process with Generation Schools and Hermanus High to connect these as the first two schools, probably from January 2020 onwards,” says Pieterse.

“Schools will be able to gear themselves better for e-learning and digital education. The Hermanus Varsity College can expand their remote education strategy with better connectivity.”

Pieterse adds that Lightstruck has ironed out teething problems with the municipality. “I think we have laid down a relationship path that we want to have with council going forward and we will strengthen this partnership in the next few months.”

These upgrades place Hermanus firmly on the path to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and gives it an edge on other towns of its size.

If you are interested in changing over to a fibre optic internet connection, go to www.lightstruck.co.za to register your interest and to see the various internet packages on offer by ISPs.

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