News Column

Collaboration is critical to improving Internet connectivity for SA's FET colleges

June 23, 2014

TENET announced that it will host a Briefing Session on FET College Network Connectivity in Johannesburg in late July. The goal is to bring together relevant decision-makers to specifically address issues and opportunities related to network connectivity (including Internet connectivity) at South Africa's public FET colleges.

South Africa's FET colleges are increasingly frustrated by a lack of ability to interconnect their member campuses, and to connect their combined campus networks to high capacity and affordable internet services. Most FET colleges typically rely on a combination of ADSL and Diginet leased lines, as well as satellite services, to provide connectivity to multiple campuses serving thousands of students.

Lately though, FET colleges have begun exploring other opportunities, and are reaching out to organisations like TENET for a broader solution to their Internet problem. "There is a strong parallel to be drawn from the collaborative approach taken by South Africa's public universities to tackle similar issues currently facing the public FET college sector," said Duncan Greaves, Chief Executive Officer of TENET. "TENET and the South African National Research and Education Network (SANREN) are the result of an extensive networking collaboration". The Internet and data networking landscape for South Africa's educational and research community has improved considerably as a result of sustained investments made by government, specifically by the Department of Science and Technologies (DST) through the CSIR, and by the Public Universities through TENET, as well as the strategic acquisition of international capacity on more than one undersea cable.

Even though TENET's internet bandwidth is afforded to the broader public education community, FET colleges are typically not connected to SANREN, which TENET manages under the terms of a Collaboration Agreement with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). While a small number of FET colleges have carried the cost of self-connecting to SANREN, this is cost prohibitive for most FET colleges, especially when purchasing the last mile directly from the commercial market, and because it involves connecting multiple campuses. "We have benefited from purchasing our own fibre link to a SANREN point-of-presence," said Thomas Mafate, Chief Financial Officer at Central Johannesburg College. "But extending the reach of this core education and research data networking service to all FET colleges will require broader collaboration to include other relevant government agencies and the entire FET college community."

The Briefing Session on FET College Internet Connectivity will be held on 28 July at a Johannesburg hotel conference centre close to OR Tambo airport. Invitations are currently being issued to relevant officials at FET colleges and to government departments responsible for managing, funding, planning or implementing internet connectivity to FET colleges.

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Source: ITWeb

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