Universal access to the internet in South Africa is no longer being held back by high prices or a lack of education, but by government and regulatory inefficiency. Smartphones and mobile computing devices are getting cheaper and broadband far more affordable. But the spectrum needed to deliver high-speed bandwidth is still clogged up by the government’s frustrating delay in switching TV broadcasts from analogue to more efficient digital signals, says Mark Taylor, CEO for Nashua Mobile.
“We are at a juncture where technology developments have outpaced our regulations. The freeing up of spectrum through the digitisation of TV signals is lagging behind, and has serious implications for our operators remaining on the forefront of offering the latest technologies to South Africa.” Network operators are introducing the latest LTE wireless technology for high-speed, high-capacity data, but they cannot set up national LTE networks because spectrum is not available. “It’s critical that we see the delivery of additional spectrum quickly to remain globally competitive, otherwise South Africa will fall further behind in the broadband divide,” Taylor warns. “Universal access to broadband is starting to border on a human right. We can’t deliver that because TV channels are still using the spectrum, so digital migration must be finalised.” (more…)
While the iPhone 5 was not a massive upgrade from the previous 4S model, the addition of high speed LTE networking is something a lot of people have been looking for. But it arrived on SA’s shores without LTE enabled for any of our networks.
Problem is that Apple approves networks before they enable LTE on their iPhones – and if the networks dont have Apple’s approval, the phone simply would not connect to the LTE networks, even if they are available. While some might argue that it is typical from Apple to try and control these things, maybe Apple would want more tight control over anything affecting reception after the Antennagate issues of the iPhone 4.
Luckily Vodacom now has LTE enabled for contract iPhone 5 devices – MTN and Cell C has no such support right now, despite carrying the iPhone 5.
Mobile broadband is the biggest single revenue opportunity in Africa in the immediate and longer term, according to the results of a recent Industry Outlook survey commissioned by Informa Telecoms & Media. This resonates with Informa’s forecasts that suggest that annual mobile data revenues in Africa will reach US$18.5 billion by 2016 accounting for 22% of the region’s total mobile service revenues as compared with 12% in 2011.
Informa Telecoms & Media commissioned the survey for AfricaCom 2012 and will publish the results in its “Africa Telecoms Outlook 2013: Seizing new revenue opportunities” report at the event in Cape Town between 13 – 15 November.
Mobile data growth will power a number of revenue opportunities. The business case for 4G technology will emerge, according to 70% of the survey’s respondents, as the growth of mobile data services continues to accelerate. Giving mobility to broadband services will empower enterprises and especially SMEs to benefit from more mobile working thereby generating greater business agility.
Yet there remains a large constraint on the ideal of connecting Africa. Even the cheapest mobile phone is still not affordable for many there. There is a powerful message from Informa’s survey: seven out of 10 respondents agreed that operators must use their buying power and distribution networks to make more devices available and device manufacturers need to make more affordable devices.
A central message from the survey is the need for mobile network operators (MNOs) to take notice of the changing demands and characteristics of its customers. Nick Jotischky, principal analyst for emerging market analysis at Informa Telecoms & Media comments, “There is more depth to a mobile operator’s customer base in Africa than two or three years ago and, for this reason, MNOs need to gain a greater insight into their customers’ behavior and offer them services that match their individual needs and preferences. Using this insight to design new business models that combine an MNO’s traditional capabilities (mobility, location) with Internet-style services (search, mapping) will enable a more compelling and personalized set of services to a wider variety of customer segments”.
Jotischky will chair a session at AfricaCom on November 13 discussing Africa’s evolving telecoms market with a number of Informa analysts and copies of the report will be made available there.
Lilian van Zyl from Moneysmart made this great infographic showing the current cost differences in SA when it comes to mobile broadband. South Africa’s current explosion of mobile phone use have led to massive increases in the amount of data we use. In fact, we are pretty sure that for some some users, the data bundle attached to a contract is of greater concern than the talk time.
Moneysmart‘s infographic focusses on prepaid data rates, and show some very clear differences in price. The current smaller cellular operators are obviously heading for price war in the data sector, which we feel is a lot more relevant than the recent international call decreases. But enough with the chat, see the infographic below:
When it comes to broadband worldwide, the general trend is quite well known by now – over time, while broadband internet becomes faster and better, the cost comes down. Quite simple. That is why we keep on seeing great offers for internet bundles on our mobile devices. But, leave it to the fixed line operator Telkom to go and change that little formula.
A few weeks ago we got the great news that Telkom would be increasing its minimum ADSL line speeds from 384kbps to 1Mbps, while 1Mbps clients get their lines upgraded to 2Mbps. This is great, but those speeds are still way behind the rest of the world. But now, just as Telkom is increasing the speed, they have decided it is also good time to bump up the price of ADSL line rentals, as well as most of their other services, by a few percentage points.
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The African Internet has taken massive strides forward over the past three years, thanks to the large investments telecommunications operators have made in new terrestrial and submarine cables. However, there is still a lot of hard work to be done before Internet services are accessible and affordable to every person on the continent.
That’s according to Mark Simpson, CEO of SEACOM, reflecting on the state of Africa’s Internet ahead of World Telecommunications Day (17 May 2012). He says that the telecommunications industry has broken many of the bottlenecks to affordable and ubiquitous broadband across the continent.
New submarine cables such as SEACOM and the recently launched WACS have helped to boost the performance of the Internet in many African countries while driving costs down for the end user. SEACOM alone has seen more than 10-fold increases in bandwidth penetration in several of Africa’s most underserved nations, driven by drops in connectivity prices and increases in terrestrial coverage.
3G cellular network technologies have helped to boost connectivity speeds to the end user and new terrestrial networks have helped to extend connectivity from submarine cable landing points into African hinterland, once only covered by expensive satellites. Many challenges still remain, including extending the reach of the international cables into vast African territories that remain underserved, says Simpson.
Broadband connectivity will be one of the major spurs to the growth of African economies over the next decade, but there is still plenty of work to be done in building the telecommunications backbone that will connect the continent to the global village. This is according to Aidan Baigrie, Head of Business Development at SEACOM, who was speaking at the Sixth Annual Africa Economic Forum. He says that broadband is to the 21st century what railways were to the last century – the engine of social and economic progress that forges economic links between countries and supercharges trade and transactions.
One World Bank study found a 1.3% increase in GDP for every 10% increase in broadband connectivity – an illustration of just how important connectivity is in Africa’s growth path. Though the relationship between GDP and broadband may not be one of simple direct causality, there is no doubt that access to information, communication and education helps countries to grow their economies at a rapid rate.
Baigrie says that new international cables such as SEACOM have helped to boost the performance of the Internet in many African countries while reducing costs for the end-user. In service since July 2009, SEACOM alone has seen more than 10-fold increases in bandwidth penetration in several of Africa’s most underserved nations, along with big drops in connectivity prices. Many African operators are also investing in national backhaul links and the last mile.
As from 1 February 2012, users of Uncapped Lite packages will be able to download more, moving from the current (very slow) limit of 128kbps to a slightly faster 256kbps after the 3GB limit is reached. Uncapped Pro package users will also will also get a slight increase, with a maximum speed limit lift from 128kbps to 384kbps after the 10GB limit is reached. MTN Uncapped Lite is currently R289 pm for 24 months, and Uncapped Pro is R899 per month for 24 months.
The current promotion, began on 1 October 2011, and will run until 31 January 2012. It was a response to customer demands for faster and reliable Internet access at an affordable fixed monthly cost. And with a truly uncapped, no restriction limit.
“It was impressive to see the consumption rate – which certainly speaks to the value customers are getting from this R289 p/m promotional package,” said Serame Taukobong, Chief Marketing Officer at MTN South Africa. “The term ‘uncapped’ data has been bandied around in the industry – but this is truly the most competitive unlimited promotion on offer today.”
This promotion’s success has been the impetus for MTN’s decision to revise the Fair Use policy, permanently increasing its maximum speed limits after the limits have been reached.