BTC redefines local telecommunications landscape
From its establishment by an Act of Parliament a little over 40 years ago in 1980, BTC has grown in leaps and bounds from the digital switching centres and digital transmission centres that it introduced between 1983 and 1990 and today stands on the threshold of delivering the Internet of Things to Batswana
The telecommunications industry in Botswana has been defined by fast growth and modernisation driven by the need to align the country to developed nations.
Leading this transformation journey has been Botswana Telecommunications Corporation’s (BTC) purpose as the pioneering telecommunications company that has anchored the national economy over the years. The journey of Botswana’s telecommunications infrastructure development can be traced back more than 40 years ago with establishment of the company by an Act of Parliament in 1980. Following its establishment, BTC modernised its infrastructure by introducing digital switching centres and digital transmission networks between 1983 and 1990 with subsequent technology switchovers of the different systems and technologies to newer and better technologies.
This was done to match with network connectivity developments in the region and in alignment with its global connectivity partners. BTC Chief Operations Officer, Aldrin Sivako, says some of the notable technology transformations that BTC went through are the switch-over of the first International voice gateway from the analogue satellite based to the terrestrial international digital switching gateway. Further technology switchovers included transition from analogue microwave radio systems to digital microwave radio systems and subsequently introduction of high capacity optical fibre transmission networks, which was necessitated to support exponential growth and the increased demand for telecommunication services in the country.
During the dawn of the Internet in Botswana, BTC started with dial-up internet services which provided internet speeds of 64kbps up to 128kbps. In 2006, BTC introduced ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) internet services which was the broadband internet technology that allowed simultaneous delivery of internet and voice services to the home or office over the same copper cable.
In 2008, BTC expanded its ADSL internet services across the country through the rollout of its Next Generation Networks (NGN) technologies, allowing delivery of both internet and voice services through the same network equipment called the NGN multi-service access node. With the NGN technology, BTC was able to deliver internet speeds of up to 4Mbps on a shared network infrastructure.
BTC later introduced Fibre-To-The-Curb and Fibre-To-The-Home (abbreviated as FTTc and FTTh) in 2018 and 2019 respectively, delivering fixed broadband connectivity and services. With the FTTc and FTTx technologies, which are also known as Fixed Broadband (FBB) technologies, customers can realise internet speeds of 10Mbps, 20Mbps, 50Mbps, and up to 100Mbps in localities with fibre to the house or building. This has enabled unlimited video streaming, remote working, online collaboration, remote learning and support the growing usage of online services.
Today BTC takes pride in having more than two thirds of its Fixed Broadband customers who are distributed all over the country now connected onto this modernised fixed broadband network, giving them better experience, high speed and reliable internet connectivity to their homes and offices. BTC also delivers connectivity to its customers using its high speed 4.5G networks in areas without the fixed infrastructure.
The BTC Fixed broadband internet offers an uncapped or unlimited service to customers, meaning that customers need not worry about depleting data bundles, which Sivako says is common with mobile or wireless connectivity.
The BTC fixed broadband solutions are the go-to solution for families who are sharing internet at home where reliable and unlimited connectivity is a requirement for simultaneous support of bandwidth-hungry services such as video streaming, remote working and remote learning, which are now prevalent during these times of COVID-19 movement restrictions.
“As a BTC customer, I have both the fixed broadband service and the fast-connect mobile service (known as Combo) which allows my family to always remain connected even when the fixed service is down because of power outage,” said one BTC customer who has bought the BTC Combo solution.
The Fixed Broadband environment provides the baseline for enabling business transformation towards realising the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The future of fixed broadband networks is the looming Fifth Generation Fixed Networks (abbreviated as F5G). The F5G shall define the future of fixed connected networks that will be interoperable and aligned to the Fifth Generation (5G) Mobile Networks. As the leading telecommunications company, BTC is poised to continue trendsetting in fixed network and mobile network advancement.
“BTC continues building its networks and digital capabilities, providing cost-effective mobile and fixed internet using advanced 4G mobile technology known as 4.5G and the fibre connectivity, as well as hosting services to companies at its state-of-the-art data centre (Sentlhaga), giving customers improved digital experience as we continue to drive the digital economy of Botswana,” says the BTC Chief Operations Officer.
Furthermore, through our digital transformation agenda we have built and continue to enhance our digital capabilities enabling our customers to interact with us through different platforms, thereby limiting physical contact when customers perform online service applications and payments for services, Sivako reiterated.