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Green light given to continue Pietermaritzburg fibre network build

Green light given to continue Pietermaritzburg fibre network build.

South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) to construct a network build in the Msunduzi municipality which encompasses Pietermaritzburg.

Launched in 2007, DFA finances, builds, installs, manages, and maintains a dark fibre network to transmit metro and long-haul telecommunications traffic in South Africa.

And as part of its plans, DFA was building an underground fibre optic cable network along certain streets in Pietermaritzburg.

According to a DFA official, the build forms part of plans to build links for government entities.

But in February this year the Msunduzi municipality filed a case with the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg to stop the DFA construction in the area. The case in February was filed after DFA began constructing the initial phase of the fibre optic network in the area in November 2013.

The municipality claimed that DFA's construction plans were unauthorised, posed a safety risk and affected drainage and electricity installations. Furthermore, the Msunduzi Municipality was of the view that no construction may be done on public land under its authority without a wayleave.

The court at first issued a dismissal judgement regarding the case, but the Msunduzi municipality then appealed the decision.

But this week Wednesday, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal ruled to dismiss the municipality’s appeal.

“The appeal is dismissed with costs, including the costs of two counsel,” reads the judgment order from the Supreme Court of Appeal.

According to the court notification the Msunduzi municipality filed the appeal under section 22 of the Electronic Communication Act 36 of 2005.

“No permission required from landowner for an electronic network services licensee to exercise rights in terms of s22 - landowner includes state organs,” reads the summary of the appeal verdict.

Commenting on the ruling, Tshego Distshego, executive for brand and communications at DFA said, “This ruling is not only a win for Dark Fibre Africa but for the industry as a whole and we hope that it will enable more beneficial engagement between telecommunications operators and the various municipalities across South Africa in future.

"We have and will continue to engage with the local municipality on the practical matters related to building our network in the Msunduzi municipality," he said.

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