Network Infrastructure

Two decades of experience and expertise

As part of its network offerings, TENET operates the South African National Research Network (SANReN) that has been deployed over the past decade by the SANReN Competency Area (SCA) under contract to the Department of Science and Technology (DST). SANReN comprises a national backbone, multiple metropolitan rings, and extensive long-haul circuits to reach important research installations. These components are described briefly below. More information is available on the SCA website.

National network

The original SANReN national backbone was commissioned in December 2009 and comprised a 10 Gbps ring interconnecting Pretoria, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Gqberaha (Port Elizabeth), East London and Durban. The network has since been significantly extended through a combination of DST, DHET, TENET and institutionally funded circuits to both increases aggregate network capacity to well over 4 Tbps and to reach university campuses in smaller towns in all nine provinces.

SANReN’s metro fibre optic ring networks in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban were fully commissioned by 2010. In aggregate they connect some 90 urban campuses to the backbone. Dedicated access circuits include high capacity long-haul circuits to the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO), the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Sutherland, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA)'s magnetic observatory in Hermanus, and the developing Square Kilometre Array (SKA) site in Carnarvon.

Between 2010 and 2019, the Rural Campuses Connection Project (RCCP) was undertaken to provide high-bandwidth connections for rural university campuses to SANReN. TENET acted as implementation agent for the then Higher Education South Africa (HESA), now Universities South Africa (USAf), in both RCCP I and II. At the completion of this project, the main campus of nearly every public university in South Africa had at least 10Gbps of connectivity.

In 2019 a major upgrade was begun to convert many of the managed leased circuits on the national backbone to dark fibre lit by the NREN itself.

The South African NREN network also includes access circuits that TENET itself provides for many campuses. These include optical fibre access circuits that connect campuses that were not beneficiaries of any other connectivity initiative, to the nearest SANReN node.

As of 2023, there are more than 500 separate fibre optic circuits and over 600 discrete routers and other network devices managed by TENET on behalf of the South African NREN. Several university campuses now connect to the network at speeds of 100Gbps.

International & intercontinental links

We use multiple submarine circuits to provide several hundred Gbps of intercontinental connectivity, including:

  • SEACOM submarine cable that terminates at the SEACOM Landing Station at Mtunzini (and is extended from there redundantly to the SANReN backbone node at Durban), and at the TENET router in Amsterdam;
  • West Africa Cable System (WACS) submarine cable that terminates at the SANReN backbone node in Cape Town and at TENET's router at Telecity, London.
  • Americas-Africa Lightpaths Express and Protect (AmLight-ExP) to Miami, USA. This R&E-specific system traverses WACS to Luanda, Angola; the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) between Luanda and Fortaleza, Brazil; and the Monet cable between Fortaleza & Miami, Florida.
  • Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy)
  • South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable (SAT-3/WASC)
  • Google Cloud's Equiano cable system (Equiano)

Peering & interconnection

TENET secures global interconnectivity through its own presence in London and Amsterdam, which includes membership of major Internet exchanges (LINX, AMS-IX) as well as transit contracts with two major providers. Traffic with other NRENs is exchanged via the UbuntuNet Alliance; through peering with with the European research and education network, GÉANT (which connects 50 million users in over 10,000 institutions); and at AMPATH in Miami. TENET provides the UbuntuNet Alliance with some use of its commodity Internet connections in both cities.

Domestically, TENET maintains a presence at all three Teraco data centre sites and the associated NAPAfrica peering exchanges, from which it reaches major sources of inbound traffic through peering arrangements. TENET also maintains peering interconnections with most South African ISPs at ISPA’s Internet exchanges in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

TENET is a member of the South African Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) and Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA).

Collaboration with the SANReN Program

TENET collaborates systematically with the SANReN Competency Area (SCA), which is charged by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) with the deployment of SANReN. Under the terms of a Collaboration Agreement, the two organisations work together in growing the reach and capability of the South African NREN. In terms of this agreement, the SCA is primarily responsible for deploying infrastructure and for developing advanced services in collaboration with the beneficiary community, while TENET is primarily responsible for the operational management of the network and all the services delivered across it.