ECN Bags R100m VPN Deal

ECN Bags R100m VPN Deal

[ Johannesburg, 13 August 2007 ] – ECN, a value-added network service provider, has won a multimillion-rand contract to provide a virtual private network for property developer Bondev Development’s Midrand Estates residential project.

The contract requires ECN to provide the residents of Midrand Estates with voice and data services, and allow for the future deployment of on-demand video content and IPTV, says ECN CEO John Holdsworth.

The deal is worth R100 million over five years, and is the largest ECN has won to date, he says. It is also the first large-scale deployment of voice services that does not involve fixed-line incumbent Telkom, he says.

Holdsworth says Midrand Estates will have 5 000 residential units at completion. The development already has 2 500 units up and running, he says. “This is probably the largest residential development in SA,” he adds.

The Midrand Estates project is also the first large-scale deployment of passive optical network (PON) technology, says Holdsworth.

A PON network is a point-to-multipoint network architecture that uses less fibre and central office equipment than point-to-point network architectures. PON technology has gained traction in Europe, North America and Asia, says Holdsworth.

Preparing for choice

The ECN network allows Midrand Estates residents to make full inbound and outbound calls across all of SA’s fixed and mobile networks, says Jan Zeederberg, director of Bondev Development. ECN’s services were tested for reliability through extensive trials before deployment, he adds.

ECN guarantees Midrand Estates residents that their telecoms rates will always be cheaper than the incumbent fixed-line operator’s standard call rates, says Holdsworth. ECN also provides free on-net calls, online billing and a range of value-added services, he says.

ECN COO Jeremy McDonald says it will take some time before residential telecoms users outside gated communities are able to access services from alternative telecoms providers because of a delay in finalising relevant regulations.

“We are incredibly frustrated that ECN can only provide its portfolio of communications services to gated communities at this stage and not the wider residential market. However, when the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) finally introduces carrier pre-select (CPS) regulations later on this year, we will immediately be able to provide consumers with a choice,” he says.

McDonald says the market must also prepare itself for Telkom to delay the implementation of CPS regulations.

“This will have to be managed vigilantly by ICASA as the market cannot afford to sit through months of talks while residential customers are unable to use alternative telecoms service providers,” he says.

ICASA was unable to say when it expects to gazette CPS regulations.

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