The City of Johannesburg has been forced to implement “interim steps” to narrow down the 25 respondents to the original request for information for its multimillion-rand broadband network project.

This is according to Douglas Cohen, project consultant for ICT sector support at the Department of Economic Development. He says it would be impractical and expensive for the city to adjudicate 25 different demonstration networks, which was to be the next step in the process.

His team has instead decided to distil the 25 to a substantially smaller number, and ask only the new short-listed firms to build a one square kilometre demonstration network.

One winner will be selected from this smaller pool.

“We have given them some time to come back with answers to further questions. We have set the beginning of August as the response date,” he says.

The 25 bidders on the original shortlist show telcos and network providers large and small are interested in grabbing the potentially lucrative contract. This includes the likes of MTN Network Services, Vodacom, Altech, Dimension Data, Sentech, Telkom, Transnet and iBurst.