Juniper Networks and NEC build new network for SA FWA provider

01 July 2021

Juniper Networks and NEC have built the first commercial network in South Africa to be driven by segment routing, the companies said.

Built for Herotel, the country’s largest fixed wireless service provider, the project was part of a significant network upgrade initiative.

Herotel chose to build its new IP network based on segment routing principles, augmenting traditional MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) techniques. Segment routing means fewer network elements are involved, avoiding slow response to sudden network changes. It also supports the application QoS (Quality of Service), mapping specific applications and end users to preferential network service paths.

“Streamlining deployment at massive scale and across vast distances, yet still focusing on the user experience, was the challenge that Herotel brought to us,” said Brendan Gibbs, vice president of automated WAN solutions, Juniper Networks. “The segment routing solution now in place delivers optimal bandwidth utilisation, reduced latency and automated traffic engineering capabilities. This enables Herotel to provide stand-out connectivity and services to its many thousands of business and residential users, despite the geographic challenges of such a dispersed population.”

Gibbs said it also has “the necessary headroom and agility to keep ahead of Herotel’s ambitious ongoing growth plans, again without any compromise to the end-user experience”.

Herotel has been expanding its service provision across the country through the acquisition of 40 different service providers between 2018 and 2020, as well as initiating new builds. It has now consolidated 19 separate networks and operating frameworks into a single architecture.

The company’s chief technology officer Eldred Ekermans added: “Herotel’s stated mission for South Africa is ‘everyone connected’. In support of this, we have three clear strategic anchors: excellent customer experience, low-cost deployment and strategic availability of our services.

“The network is the critical element, so we knew we had to be bold and innovative to succeed and keep this promise to our customers. The solution from Juniper, with NEC XON as the integration partner, has delivered the simplicity, operational functionality and agility that other vendors simply could not,” Ekermans continued. During South Africa’s initial national lock-down period starting in March 2020, Herotel said it experienced a 30% increase in network traffic.