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Wireless broadband overtakes ADSL in South Africa

March 17, 2010 • Top Stories

Arthur Goldstuck, MD World Wide Worx

Wireless broadband in South Africa has been growing almost three times as fast as fixed line broadband in South Africa, registering a growth of 88% last year, against 21% for ADSL.

According to Internet Access in South Africa 2010 compiled by Cisco and World Wide Worx, the major driver of this phenomenon was the deployment of 3G cards and their extended usage in large companies. Last year saw a significant increase in the number of companies giving 3G cards to employees who need to be connected while out of the office.

“Wireless broadband is neither cheaper nor better quality, but it is more convenient and flexible, and it changes the way we think about where and how we use the Internet.

The combination of new undersea cables and terrestrial fibre-optic networks means we are seeing the emergence of the next generation of connectivity technology, both in fixed line and wireless services.

The missing ingredients now are the next generation of customer access equipment for those who are connected, and affordable availability of access for those who are not”, commented Arthur Goldstuck, managing director, World Wide Worx.

Overall, the number of South Africans accessing the Internet via broadband connections increased by 50% in the past year, with most of the growth in fixed line broadband coming from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) upgrading to ADSL. The study revealed that over half-a-million South Africans working in small offices now have access to Internet, compared to last year.

The study also shows that, by 2011, if all current cables are in function, the total capacity of undersea cables connecting Africa to the rest of the world will have increased 150-fold over 2008.

In 2011, the undersea cables capacity will jump to 14 770 Gbps, from the expected 5 410 Gbps this year. Resulting in an 18% increase in the number of ISPs in the country.

Finally, the study looked at recent developments in the country, especially in education and entertainment, where convergence of formerly disparate services – voice, video and data, is now possible. The integration of broadcast TV, video on demand (VoD) and telephony services will further transform the way SA people use the Internet.

“The varied range of services and the demand consumers have started placing on Internet based application services has fuelled the uptake that we see today. Internet access speeds do need to scale in order to meet the demands of applications and services, specifically those that are video enabled”, concluded Reshaad Sha, senior manager of Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), Emerging Markets.

World Wide Worx is a South African independent technology research and strategy organisation, with a focus on technology in business strategy.

Cisco is one of the world’s leading providers of networking solutions.

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