Whilst South Africa’s Communications Minister Yunus Carrim has vowed to move forward on the development and rollout of a National Broadband Plan, ICT operators and industry representatives have stressed the need for a more collaborative approach and partnerships to address the need for access to cost effective broadband for more people.
This is one of the main messages to emerge from a panel discussion between operators and industry representatives, as well as keynote presenters, at this year’s SATNAC 2013, hosted by Telkom in Stellenbosch, Western Cape.
The theme of the event is Broadband – A Catalyst for Sustainable Economic Development and Promoting Digital Inclusion.
Puleng Kwele, Chief Technology Officer, Broadband Infraco, said that there are pockets of efficiency in the market and that policies have not yet fully evolved, and that not only is there a need for collaboration between stakeholders, but also a need to avoid duplication in order to bring broadband to more end-users.
She also emphasised the need for greater separation in industry between wholesalers and retailers, contesting that not everyone can be both.
Dr. Robert Pepper, Vice President of Global Technology Policy, Cisco, referred to a joint report of the UN Broadband Commission and Cisco, brought out in July, which reinforced the notion that broadband plans matter and that they lead to an increase in broadband penetration.
He mentioned that fixed broadband increases penetration by more than 25% and in the case of mobile, by over 30%.
ICT Skills Development, digital literacy programs for students and adults, IT resources and training have been put forward as critical to meet demands and have to be incorporated into policy.
“We need to move to impact and creating an ecosystem … and mesh together supply side and demand,” added Dr. Pepper.
Chris Tredger – Online Editor