On day two of SATNAC 2013, hosted by Telkom in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, Dr. Miriam Altman, Head of Strategy at Telkom SA SOC Ltd. has outlined why broadband, included in the National Development Plan 2030 aspirations, could be the transformative solution that addresses key socio-economic challenges in South Africa.
According to Dr. Altman this technology can play a critical role in ensuring service delivery and helping the country’s vast majority of people, including those who are employed, leverage off these services.
“Most South Africans live from crisis to crisis and this has to do with unemployment and low earnings, which makes it impossible to save and create a buffer,” she explained.
Whilst the objective of government is to achieve 100 percent broadband penetration, there are challenges, including the pace of change within the industry and perception of need.
“Broadband could be the transformative solution, but, there is a problem from a planning perspective. When someone says they need food and water, it is self-explanatory, but when someone says they are poor and need broadband…it is not clear. Another challenge is that government struggles to engage an industry that changes all the time,” said Dr. Altman.
Dr. Altman also noted that the objective of ubiquitous household broadband requires a secure ecosystem which, in turn, requires funding.
Thought leaders from operators Neotel, Cell C and Telkom SA formed part of a panel discussion of issues such as spectrum allocation, collaboration on policy and intervention by regulators.
Amongst the key points raised were the need to acquire a common vision of the state of the industry, to create an environment that encourages partnerships, the role of the regulator in addressing issues like cost and coverage and the importance of a facts-based discussion. The panel also highlighted South Africa’s progress – and difficulties – on the way to fostering a networked knowledge economy and why it is critical to adopt a systematic approach to the regulation of a broadband ecosystem.
Chris Tredger – Online Editor