What Exactly is An FNO (Fibre Network Owner)?

What does FNO Mean?

Fibre Network Operators (FNOs) – also called Fibre Network Owners – are the companies responsible for owning, managing, and maintaining fibre optic connectivity infrastructure in South Africa. The primary role of an FNO is deployment of fibre optic cable within a specific area, enabling residential, commercial, and government entities to access high-speed internet connections. Key responsibilities of South Africa’s FNOs include:

  1. Trenching and Micro-trenching – this is essentially boring holes and laying fibre optic cables. Micro-trenching refers to the practice of cutting slender channels approximately 2.5 to 7.5 centimetres wide and 15 to 60 centimetres deep into roadsides and footpaths for the purpose of laying fibre cables. Once the cables are installed, the channels are filled in with asphalt or another filler material.
  2. Installing Fibre boxes – you’ll notice these outside houses and connecting newly-trenched fibre lines to these boxes.
  3. Collaborating with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deliver their network services to end-users.
  4. Maintenance and continuous upgrade of the fibre optic infrastructure for seamless connectivity.


What is an FNO

Other names for FNO

Fibre Network Owners (FNOs) are also referred to by various names in different countries or regions. However, these alternative names all have the primary role – deploying, owning, managing, and maintaining fibre optic cable and connectivity infrastructure. Some of the other terms used to describe FNOs are:

  1. Fiber Network Operators: This term is essentially the same as Fibre Network Owners but uses the American English spelling of “fibre” instead of “fibre.”
  2. Network Infrastructure Providers (NIPs): In some contexts, FNOs are referred to as Network Infrastructure Providers, emphasising their role in providing the physical infrastructure necessary for internet connectivity.
  3. Wholesale Network Operators: FNOs can also be called Wholesale Network Operators, particularly when they provide services to multiple ISPs, who then offer retail services to end-users.
  4. Fibre Infrastructure Providers (FIPs): This term is another way to describe companies responsible for the deployment and management of fibre optic networks.

In South Africa, FNOs are generally called Fibre Network Owners, but they may also be referred to using some of the terms mentioned above. In other countries, the specific terminology used for FNOs may vary based on local industry practices and regulations.

South Africa’s Top FNOs

South Africa has a growing number of FNOs that are dedicated to expanding the country’s fibre optic network. Some of the prominent FNOs operating in the country include:

  • Octotel: Cape Town-based Octotel is renowned for providing open-access fibre networks, catering to both residential and business customers.
  • Frogfoot: With an extensive network presence in major cities, Frogfoot focuses on offering fibre connectivity to residential, commercial, and gated communities.
  • Openserve: as a subsidiary of Telkom Group, Openserve is one of South Africa’s largest FNOs, providing fibre connectivity to a wide range of customers, including enterprises and government institutions.
  • Vumatel: Pioneers in the fibre optic space, Vumatel was one of the first companies to bring high-speed fibre connectivity to South African homes, and they continue to expand their footprint across the country.
  • Linklayer: Linklayer is a dynamic FNO that focuses on providing reliable fibre connectivity to businesses and residential areas throughout the country.

  • Lightstruck: Lightstruck is dedicated to expanding fibre networks in South Africa, offering open-access fibre infrastructure to residential communities and businesses.

  • Vodacom: As a leading telecommunications company in South Africa, Vodacom also offers fibre connectivity services to residential and business customers, expanding its portfolio beyond mobile services.

  • MetroFibre: MetroFibre is a rapidly growing FNO in South Africa, providing open-access fibre networks for residential, commercial, and industrial clients.

  • Mitsol: Mitsol is a well-established FNO, specializing in providing fibre connectivity services to residential estates, business parks, and municipalities throughout South Africa.

  • Zoom Fibre: Zoom Fibre is a growing FNO, offering high-speed fibre connectivity solutions to residential, commercial, and industrial clients across South Africa.


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