“This is a very important project for Mauritius Telecom in the sense that we are the leader in the fixed mobile and internet market. Since 2006, we decided on a broadband Mauritius policy, and introduced ADSL in Mauritius,” Orange Mauritius Telecom CEO Sarat Lallah told CNBC Africa on Monday.
“Through ADSL we introduced IPTV, that was seven years ago. All that was done on our copper wire network. What we are witnessing in the past years is the demand of data is becoming more important. To be able to respond to that, we embarked on a fiber optic policy. In fact, we started in 1997 to connect all our exchanges with optic fibre.”
By the end of 2000, the country already had a sturdy fiber optic network. Provisions were also made for the country’s business sectors once demand from the industry began to grow.
Today, 200 businesses are connected to broadband via fiber optic cables, as well as most government offices in the Port Louis centre. Areas such as Ebène CyberCity, the Bagatelle project and the airport also have high-speed internet.
Mauritius’s ICT sector accounts for 6.8 per cent of GDP and employs 16,000 people.
The broadband rollout has allowed the island to emerge as a worthy Information and communications technology (ICT) competitor on a global level and has helped it become a prime ICT destination.
“The next step was to connect homes. Last year we embarked on a pilot project to connect some 550 home in two areas in Mauritius, and this test has proved to be very positive. We decided and launched last week that fiber-to-the-home project, with the intention of connecting at the end of 2016 50 per cent of the homes in Mauritius,” Lallah explained.
Mauritius’s relationship with France Télécom, now re-branded as Orange, has also helped with the high- speed internet rollout. In 2002, then-France Télécom had purchased a 40 per cent stake in Mauritius Telecom. Orange has since been considered as a strategic partner for Mauritius Telecom.
“They’ve been helpful in sharing with us the technology and when we introduced the multiplay IPTV in Mauritius since 2006, it’s thanks to this partnership. The multiplay gives, though our copper wires, broadband internet, 50 television channels, Wi-Fi in the home, video on demand, and all these were done on the copper wire,” said Lallah.