Since its foundation in 2014, Herotel's overarching mission has been to drive ubiquitous, affordable internet connectivity and access to services and content across South Africa's 1.22 million Km2, including communities in remote districts. In addition to rapid organic growth of its network, the acquisition of numerous local service providers over a short period of time has further broadened Herotel's reach. However, this approach has also led to a disparate, cost-inefficient infrastructure in need of simplification and alignment to meet its objectives. Over the past year, this need has been exacerbated by significantly increased demand for secure, reliable connectivity and bandwidth during work-at-home and extended lock-down periods, with thousands of workers accessing corporate resources from "unknown" home networks. Furthermore, given the large distances between data centers and other points of presence, the ability to store and stream bandwidth-heavy content closer to as many customers as possible has become another imperative for Herotel.
Herotel chose to build its new IP network based on segment routing principles, augmenting traditional MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) techniques, to maximize operational flexibility and agility and to help deliver improved, consistent user experiences at scale and cost-effectively. Segment routing is a control-plane architecture which simplifies traffic engineering, enabling the path that data packets take across the network to be determined in advance. This 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.
- Herotel has now consolidated 19 separate networks and operating frameworks into a single architecture, in support of its simplification and cost-control program, having acquired 40 different service providers between 2018 and 2020.
- During South Africa's initial national lock-down period starting in March 2020, Herotel experienced a 30 percent increase in network traffic.
- For the remainder of 2021, Herotel aims to bring another 60,000 new customers online, and is currently building new fiber connections for 16 towns, with another 18 planned for towns in the Western Cape district.
- Juniper Networks' MX Series Universal Routing Platform underpins the solution deployed by Herotel. Specifically, Herotel has deployed the MX204 Universal Routing Platform for metro access routing and the MX10008 Universal Routing Platform in the network core.
- Herotel also has the Juniper Broadband Network Gateway Solution (BNG) enabled across its distributed architecture to support local peering and as a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This capability is enabled by the MX platforms and Junos OS, the single operating system that powers Juniper's portfolio.
- NEC led the architectural design and implementation of Herotel's new network as the 'Network Integrator,' backed by its extensive transport networking integration and engineering capabilities accumulated through its rich experience of delivering innovative networking to hundreds of customers globally. It has also been recognized as Juniper's Global Alliance Partner of the Year for 2020, underlining its outstanding execution capabilities and exceptional attention to customer experience.
- Juniper and NEC XON, a subsidiary of NEC, worked closely together to deliver Herotel's innovative new network and will extend their collaborative effort to develop enhanced networks to drive Herotel's continued business success in the region.