Election technologies most advanced in SA’s democratic history: Telkom

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With the 2021 Municipal Elections under way, more than 26 million South Africans are eligible to cast their votes across the country.

The technical support given to the IEC will be paramount, as voting data must be captured in high-density metropolitan areas as well as remote rural areas from over 23 000 voting stations.

 Telkom provides the voice and data network backbone for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), to allow for the collation and reporting of votes across the country.

“The people of South Africa are dependent on our connectivity to make their votes count. It all boils down to the technologies we deploy to service the electorate and the IEC, regardless of where voting is taking place,” says Managing Executive of Converged Communications at Telkom-owned BCX, Prashil Gareeb.

“Telkom has been helping to bring democracy to the people since our first democratic elections in 1994. In that time, we have helped to facilitate six national elections and five municipal polls. We have come a long way over this time,” say Gareeb.

This means using a wide range of technologies – from legacy copper connections to 60 satellites, highspeed fibre lines and the latest in Wi-Fi tech.

These will include:

  • Telkom’s fixed copper-line network
  • Broadband wireless
  • Telkom’s fibre network
  • Satellite communications
  • GSM technology
  • Next-generation Wi-Fi 6

Neo Phukubje, executive for channel and business development at BCX Wireless, a subsidiary of Telkom, says this matrix of capabilities will guarantee that results are tabulated reliably, and data remains safe and secure.

Phukubje shares more:

“So, we deploy fit-for-purpose technology that is in line with IEC’s requirements, to ensure that they are able to fulfill on their mandates to give out the elections. So whether we’re talking about branch connectivity or we’re talking about secure networking for the different sites, we’ve included all of that, to ensure that we have the full elements to be able to provide a full-on architecture for the IEC.”

Phukubje says many of these technologies are revolutionary and will be used for the first time in the election process, such as high-speed networks, fibre and Wi-Fi 6 infrastructure – the latest generation of W-LAN technology, which supports download speeds of up to 9.6 gigabits per second – up from 3.5 Gbps.

“We are deploying also the Wi-Fi 6 infrastructure. which is the latest technology in wireless infrastructure that performs extremely well at peak network load, and this will be most helpful. During the election time we will have multiple electoral officials, the security cluster, the media and a lot of public officials as well, all co-located at the sites”

The connectivity for the elections is underpinned by BCX’s MPLS-based VPN. This is a managed Virtual Private Network, connecting the country’s 400 counting locations using multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), which results in faster speeds and better control of traffic flow between network nodes.

Telkom also provides 24-hour technical support and active network management from its Network Operations Centre (NOC).

Once votes have been cast, Telkom networks will securely convey counting and results-slip images for auditing and storage at the main results centres, with multiple-gigabit links of high-quality video also being streamed to the resident media agencies and the public.

Telkom technology has already helped to support an efficient registration process, which saw 1,7 million voters registered during the most recent two-day registration on 18 and 19 September 2021.

 

13 days ago