Is Nelson Mandela Bay the new micro-trenching tech hub?

26 June 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201915166

Electrical & Electronics
ICT In Industry

SUMMERSTRAND in Nelson Mandela Bay has become one of the first areas in the Eastern Cape to get fibre internet infrastructure installed using an innovative process called micro-trenching.

The Nelson Mandela Bay council provided permission to MetroFibre Networx to install fibre infrastructure via micro-trenching in Summerstrand on a proof-of-concept basis in May 2019. According to the company, the results have been a much faster, cleaner and less disruptive process for residents and the metro alike.

“The council’s decision to test the micro-trenching process has been an absolute win for residents,” said Henry Wilkens from MetroFibre Networx.

Is Nelson Mandela Bay the new micro-trenching tech hub?

“It has saved residents the disruption and upheaval common with traditional hand-trenching methods which dig up entire pavements and driveways, along with all the restoration work needed after the infrastructure is laid.

“Micro-trenching is both less invasive and much quicker. Deployment time is reduced by 60% to 80% in comparison with traditional hand trenching methods. There is also much less chance of consequential damage to any surrounding infrastructure, which can prove problematic for local councils and residents.”

Wilkens said MetroFibre Networx is a pioneer in the installation of fibre networks utilising micro-trenching in the South African market. The procedure is done by specialised machines and trained operators who cut a narrow and shallow trench into the road surface, right alongside the pavement where the curb and the tarmac meet.

A micro-trench is typically 30 to 50 millimetres wide and can be up to 400 millimetres deep, although usually about 200 millimetres for fibre purposes. The fibre conduit and cable are placed in this micro-trench and the area is then backfilled and sealed with a specialised trench grout which restores the road to its original surface.

The company completed the micro-trenching process in Summerstrand covering a 5km area in under two weeks – from the very first cut to installing and completing the entire installation of the fibre infrastructure to the closing and restoring of the road surfaces.

Wilkens said because MetroFibre is an open access provider, there is no need for multiple fibre infrastructure providers to dig up the terrain as all approved Internet Service Providers (ISP) are able to operate off its fibre network.

“It’s an innovative approach by the Nelson Mandela Bay metro that puts the interests of the residents first and certainly lessens the aesthetic impact on its scenic, tourist environment. MetroFibre is currently one of a very limited number of operators in the country using this technology,” he said,

“We are looking at deploying this methodology more widely in our national operations.”

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