SA ready for SKA - Telkom

2004-01-16 11:22

Cape Town - Telkom's chief technical officer has told an international committee visiting South Africa that the company has the infrastructure and expertise in radio technology to elevate Southern Africa as the most advanced region for multi-wavelength astronomy in the world.

According to Reuben September, Telkom's network has in-built protection to provide resilience and optic fibre nodes in close proximity to the proposed sites for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in the Northern Cape.

The International SKA Committee delegates are in South Africa to evaluate the country's bid to attract the location of the SKA, a new generation US$1bn telescope, which would be located in either Namaqualand near Nababeep, the Kalahari outside Upington, or Prieska in the Karoo.

"Telkom is willing and committed to participation in the SKA project. Telkom looks forward in assisting in the bidding committee process, especially the identification of suitable remote zones, and the development of methods to establish and maintain radio zones around the SKA sites," September said in a statement.

He said the project would create "realistic and global" business opportunities for the South African construction, defence, software, communication, electronics and steel industries.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) are at the forefront of government's efforts to bring the telescope to Southern Africa.

The region is already a hub for the observation of stars, galaxies and the universe, as both the Southern Africa Large Telescope (SALT) in Sutherland, Northern Cape, and the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) in Namibia, give the area an astronomical edge in world terms.

An international consortium, including South Africa and Namibia, will build the SKA.

It will involve advanced capacity building in telecommunications, imaging technology, receiver technology, high speed computing, antennae engineering, space physics and advanced computation.

September said Telkom was confident it had the capability to provide suitable telecommunication infrastructure for the SKA project.

Telkom's optic fibre network penetrated much of South Africa's rural areas, and had an international connectivity capability by means of two undersea optic fibre cables.