8 February 2008
The launch of the R450-million Next Generation Network (NGN) gives South African state institutions and government departments access to a faster communications network with the ability to run voice, video and data services at lower cost.
The network, developed by the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), landline operator Neotel and Business Connexion, replaces the Government Common Core Network (GCCN), which was used since 2003.
The project started in May 2007, and the migration of government departments was concluded in January.
“Sita previously announced that since the GCCN’s implementation, capacity requirements on the network had grown by 150% year-on-year, but there had been no major bandwidth upgrades to support the increase,” Neotel said in a statement on Tuesday.
Sita CEO Llewellyn Jones said that with the NGN in place, “we can now provide government departments with better response times and a higher quality network that has the ability to run voice, video and data services.”
With the deployment of the NGN, Sita can now utilise the network’s additional capacity to create more virtual private networks, cater for additional ports to connect clients and provide broadband solutions.
Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said the NGN project demonstrated the importance of “forging the right partnerships between the public and private sector.”
Neotel was awarded a five-year contract to provide national backbone transmission services to support the new NGN. Its high-capacity links connect Sita’s sites in major cities and towns countrywide with nearly 700 megabits per second of transmission bandwidth – nearly double the bandwidth previously available.
The investment also entailed a R76-million upgrade of the GCCN backbone from Nortel to Cisco technology. Business Connexion supplied, installed and will support the network equipment on the NGN for three years.
Neotel MD Ajay Pandey said the company’s efforts were directed towards fulfilling their promise to South Africans, which was to reduce the cost of doing business and to bridge the digital divide.
Subsequent phases of the NGN will entail installation of dual routes into 10 of Sita’s switching centres, which will commence in May. Intrusion prevention devices will also be installed at customer sites from July.