Broadband access in South Africa has more than doubled in the last two years, as mobile operators slashed the cost of data and network roll-out accelerated.
This is revealed in new data contained in the final version of the Internet Access in South Africa 2012 study, released today. The study was conducted by World Wide Worx and backed by the howzit MSN online portal.
The broadband data, which is analysed in detail in the report, shows that the number of broadband subscriptions grew from 3,6-million at the end of 2010 to an expected 8,2-million by the end of 2012 – 128% growth.
Many users have multiple forms of broadband access – such as an ADSL account as well as 3G – while many hop between operators to take advantage of promotional offers. As a result, the number of individual broadband users is substantially lower, but also more than doubling in the past two years. The number has grown from 2,8-million to 6,7-million – 140% growth in just two years.
“The migration from fixed line to mobile represents a profound shift in the way South Africans consume content,” says Justin Zehmke, Executive Producer of howzit MSN. “The 9-5 internet peak, along with the traditional desktop publishing and advertising model that has become the South African standard, will become increasingly irrelevant. Coupled with the availability of cheaper mobile devices, this presents an opportunity for smaller publishing and tech companies to enter a market traditionally dominated by a few major players.”
Zehmke’s view is backed up by World Wide Worx’s finding that the total number of fixed line broadband subscriptions is now outnumbered 8 to 1 by mobile broadband subscriptions. Telkom’s ADSL service now holds just
10,6% of the broadband subscriber market in South Africa.
Measured by subscriptions, South Africa now has an apparent 15,8% broadband penetration of the population. However, due to extensive multiple-use of broadband subscriptions, especially thanks to the falling cost of data and the proliferation of promotional offers, the number of individuals using broadband subscriptions represents only 11% penetration of the population.
“This may seem small, but it is still light years ahead of where we were five years ago,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx. “It suggests that, five years from now, mobile broadband and smartphones will be the conventional means of access, rather than fixed line, which will increasingly be confined to small business.”
Zehme adds: “High speeds, lower rates and ease of access also means that the demographic of the SA user base is shifting significantly, once again creating space for new content and business models. The trends presented in this survey suggest that we will see a major shift in the type of content supplied and consumed, with mobile apps and services at the top of the industry’s priority list.”
The impact, he believes, will be highly positive for the content industry:
“The search for viable digital business models will lay the foundation for a culture of innovation in technology and publishing, creating choice and variety for the consumer. As the audience matures and continues to grow, we are set for a reinvention of the South African digital industry.”