Telecommunications (telecoms) operator Neotel, which launched two years ago, has spent more than R3,5-billion on capital expenditure to date, CEO Ajay Pandey said on Tuesday.

He added that the company’s long-distance terrestrial fibre-optics joint venture with mobile operators MTN and Vodacom was “working well”, and progress was being made on the Johannesburg to Durban route of the project.

Meanwhile, the Johannesburg to Cape Town route was at a “very advanced stage of planning”.

“I am a big fan of infrastructure sharing,” Pandey confirmed.

Neotel’s metropolitan area network now spanned over 3 500 km in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban, which the company said was 750 km ahead of the schedule for the 2009/10 financial year.

Pandey reiterated that being a telecoms infrastructure company was a very capital-intensive business, but that the operator was on track with its business plan.

“From the third year onwards, you begin to turn the corner, and as we are moving forward, our numbers are getting better and better. Because telcoms, as you know, is a business, if you achieve that scale, then it begins to roll, and I think we are moving forward in that direction,” he added.

The company had almost 75 WiMax towers in operation, from 90% to 95% of which were servicing customers in Gauteng. Pandey admitted that the company had faced certain issues with coverage, particularly in the Western Cape, however, he felt satisfied that these problems had been solved, and environmental impact assessment clearances were no longer an issue.

The acquisition of Transtel in 2008, and the acquisition of more CDMA and WiMax sites in the major metropolitan areas have contributed significantly to Neotel increasing its client base to more than 500 enterprise customers and its employee population has grown to over 1 000, added the company.

Beyond the major metropolitan areas, CDMA and WiMax enterprise services were also available in Port Elizabeth, East London, and Richards Bay.

Pandey said that Neotel hoped to extend consumer services to Pietermaritzburg, East London and Port Elizabeth in the current financial year, which ends March 31, 2010.

Neotel was confident it would pass the R2,2-billion consolidated revenue mark for the current financial year, and would push to exceed the R3-billion mark.

The company provided services to clients including: Standard Bank; Web Africa; Internet Solutions; Tenet Africa; the State Information Technology Agency; Vox Telecom; and the national Health Laboratory Service.

“It will be fair to say that we are aiming to pick up almost 15% of the enterprise market by the time we reach our fifth year of operations,” stated Pandey.