NamPower owned telecommunications service provider, The GridOnline has revealed that it has signed an agreement with emerging telecoms company, Paratus Telecommunications to make use of its fibre optic infrastructure.
Without giving values to the agreement, NamPower Managing Director, Simson Haulofu said the deal had been concluded last month.
“On 29 July 2019, NamPower signed the first commercial agreement between the utility’s GridOnline and Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd, a fully Namibian telecommunications service provider organization. Many more potential customers are aligning their networks, operations and strategies to also utilize the services offered by the grid and stakeholders from neighboring countries are also already engaging with the grid for data transport services through Namibia,” he told the Windhoek Observer.
He said since its inception in March this year, the company has been offering its services between Windhoek and Swakopmund, while it remains on course to launch in other towns next year.
“The service was launched and available on the same day that The GridOnline was formally launched, namely 06 March 2019,” he said.
He said the signing up of other players on the network will not have any impact on the security of NamPower’s electrical system.
“Fibre optic technology has advanced so well over the past decade that data transmission capacity on a limited number of fibres can easily be availed and shared with other telecommunication service providers, including start-up companies. All this is safely done and without compromising the integrity and security of NamPower’s electrical system, which in itself is a critical asset to Namibia,” he said.
“The service offering is a benefit that any operator in the ICT sector can use to reduce their capital costs and operational costs. At the same time, the infrastructure of NamPower can now be much better utilized. At the same time, by availing the data transmission capacity on the network, NamPower is creating an openly accessible framework for all service providers to make use of the limited and valuable fibre optic asset.”
On what the power utility had invested as startup capital for the business, Haulofu said N$6 million had been invested to operationalize the venture.
“Since NamPower already had the fibre network (the required infrastructure) running starting from 1998 for internal purposes, a comparatively low cost was required to avail commercial services. Since officially starting to develop the business in 2013, just under N$6 million was spent all together. This startup cost will most likely be recovered in under three years. NamPower was very conservative and frugal in its approach to develop the additional business, resulting in a very lean team and low running cost for the operation,” he said.
The GridOnline is an enabler for the telecommunications sector. By availing a high value national fibre optic network on a basis of pay-for-what-you-require, all and any ICT provider now have the possibility to backhaul data traffic to and from major destinations in Namibia, regardless how big, small, established or new they are. This enables the sector from small to large-scale engagements. Since operators can now focus on closing the last miles to their clients, instead of having to build a costly backhauling network, this efficiency and cost saving can and must be relayed to the end customers and consumers.
He said the company will also allow the company to share its vast network, while generating additional income streams for the power utility.
“NamPower has been operating the fibre optic network internally for several years and availing the additional services to clients is merely an extension of our current operations. NamPower holds a licence issued by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) that allows it to avail the aforementioned managed services. In essence, what it comes down to is that NamPower is commercially sharing its fibre optic infrastructure with other parties who can put this infrastructure to good use to develop the Namibian and Southern African ICT sector,” Haulofu said.
Quizzed on the impact that the company has had on the country’s telecoms sector since its launch more than five months ago, the NamPower MD said, “Namibia has now become a very prosperous option for multi-national operators, especially those of land-locked countries, to channel their traffic through Namibia and into the WACS submarine cable that has a landing station in Swakopmund. Also, operators that already have their own network established can now greatly benefit from the service offering, because The GridOnline is providing alternate back-up routes for them, which is a very important requirement for an operator to guarantee their clients service uptime and a high quality, reliable network.”