South Africa’s newest fixed-line operator, Neotel, said on Thursday that the construction of the first leg of the national long-distance fibre-optics network had started, with the completion date still on track for before the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“The optic-fibre network will provide Neotel, Vodacom and MTN with almost infinite bandwidth capacity to carry more information (voice and data) at higher speeds over greater distances, using far less power than copper cables,” said Neotel Business Support Services (NBSS) executive head Imran Abbas.

The network will cover a distance of 5 000 km, connecting major centers across South Africa.

The first route of the national fibre-optic network will extend from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal, incorporating Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

The NBSS was awarded the contracts to build the national long distance fibre-optics networks for Neotel, MTN South Africa and Vodacom.

“The deployment of high-speed, quality voice and data transmission is vital to remain competitive within the industry and to improve the overall customer experience for MTN, Vodacom and Neotel customers in the converged mobile and fixed-line arenas in terms of availability, reliability and cost-effective end-to-end solutions. This will eliminate dependencies and enable these three companies to really take charge of their own destiny,” Abbas said.