ISPs in Africa must catch tech’s next wave

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At Telkom SA’s SATNAC 2012 conference several business leaders have deliberated over the challenge of regulation affecting Internet service provision across the continent – the key message being that the gauntlet to adapt to changes and add value is now firmly laid down.

ISPs in Africa face the challenge of adding value within a vastly different ICT landscape. (Image: File)

There is agreement amongst business leaders that the ICT market has progressed and is a very different place to what it was ten years ago.

Business leaders suggest that regulation and policy drafting has advanced, the environment has become more regulated and, whilst there has been substantial negativity towards the regulatory bodies themselves, it has resulted in competition.

“There are more than six hundred licensees established and we may have differing views on regulation, depending on your position, it is a dynamic environment. In terms of regulation, the ink is on the paper, but the application thereof is another debate,” said Marius Oberholzer, Managing Director, SAINET.


ISPs in this market are at the coal-face of technology development and application, and the expectation is to not simply take care of connectivity – but actually use various channels to add value to people’s lives.

There is a belief that a shared environment, between fixed line and mobile, will be the most likely scenario going forward. There is a big push behind rich media application and integration, including video on demand and interactive video/ content provision.

Machine-to-machine communication, over-the-top services & applications/ value-added services over pipes and how services are combined to add value now characterises the ICT landscape.

“Ten years ago if something went wrong with the Internet and we fixed it in half an hour, it was fine. Now if something goes wrong for one minute, we have to draft a report. The Internet is part of daily life, financial transactions are reliant upon the Internet. In terms of where we are going, it is interesting to see where social media is going, as well as machine to machine communication,” said Edwin Thompson, General Manager, Infrastructure and Technology, MTN Business.

Laurie Fialkov, CEO of Cybersmart, said that the market is such that it does not matter how big a company is, the wave is coming and it is about being ready to catch it and ride.

Chris Tredger, Online Editor