SA to miss 5% broadband target

By Damaria Senne
Johannesburg, 22 Nov 2006

The South African government will not reach its ambitious goal of 5% broadband penetration at the current rate that connections are being made, states a new BMI-TechKnowledge report.

However, there will be two million connections, which include ADSL and wireless connections, resulting in a 4% penetration level for a population of 50 million, the report says.

This would be a big achievement, especially considering SA had a 0.2% penetration at the beginning of 2005, says BMI-T head of research Brian Neilson.

The report says overall Internet usage penetration within the entire population would not increase significantly, as most of the growth in connections will be from the same high-end users.

Many people will have more than one connection - one in their notebook PC for mobility and another one at home or at the office, it says.

However, the growing proportion of converged cellular devices, which may have Edge or higher broadband specifications, will also serve to increase alternative Internet connectivity.

The report adds that by 2010, SA would have more than 40 million gross mobile subscribers, with more than 11 million handsets having 3G technologies. The majority of the phones will be Edge-enabled, it says.

Nearly five million GSM/3G phones could be dual-mode WiFi-capable by this time, hastening the trend towards an early form of fixed mobile convergence, the report adds.

Wireless beats ADSL

Neilson says while ADSL is still expected to lead the way in terms of revenue growth, much of the new growth in terms of subscriber numbers is expected to come from wireless connectivity.

While Telkom continues to upgrade its ADSL services to higher speeds at cheaper prices, all signs now indicate its roll-out cannot keep up with the latent demand, he notes.

Telkom CEO Papi Molotsane has, however, previously indicated the fixed-line operator is taking steps to improve its ADSL lead times in order to further drive adoption. A self-install option would also help drive ADSL penetration rates, he said.

Telkom is confident it will achieve ADSL penetration of 15%-20% of fixed access lines by 2010, he added.

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