Cisco says it's open to working with government on broadband policy implementation. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Cape Town - Despite the minimal reference to broadband in this year's State of the Nation Address, government has a robust policy to roll out services, says an industry player.
In his State of the Nation speech earlier this year, President Jacob Zuma indicated that broadband services would be expanded to schools and government institutions.
"The year 2015 will mark the beginning of the first phase of broadband roll-out. Government will connect offices in eight district municipalities," Zuma said, before adding that fixed line telecoms player Telkom will be the lead "agency" for the poject.
In his maiden Budget Speech, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene also allocated R1.1bn to the expansion of broadband connectivity.
But there were no details on the scope of the programme to connect government institutions and schools.
Yet, major broadband player Cisco has said that senior policy makers generally focus on broad strokes while the details are worked out in intensive processes.
"What gets stated at the State of the Nation or Budget Speeches just skim the surface. You've really got to spend time with government in some of the more detailed workshops they have, and we have as Cisco," Vernon Thaver, chief technology officer at Cisco Systems South Africa, told Fin24.
Thaver expressed support for the 'South Africa Connect: Creating Opportunities, Ensuring Inclusion South Africa's Broadband Policy' which seeks to make broadband universal in the country by 2020.
"We did quite a detailed analysis on SA Connect and it actually is quite a comprehensive policy," Thaver said.
The fact that Zuma labelled Telkom as the default agency for broadband implementation should be seen in the context of a pragmatic approach as well, said Thaver.
"Those sorts of things is where government is trying to say: 'Let's use what we have.' Therefore, to ask whether R1.1bn is enough - it's hard to say."
He added that while the government announcement on broadband put Telkom in a unique position, both companies had to navigate the policy with caution.
"It obviously puts Telkom is a position where we've got to be understating of what government is trying to do which is orchestrate state owned assets... while at the same time Telkom has to exist as a commercial entity and so does Cisco."
Watch Cisco Systems SA CTO Vernon Thaver discusses whether the SA government is serious about broadband:
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