Hard work ahead for African internet
INTERNET| May 15, 2012, 11:38 a.m.
The African Internet has taken massive strides forward over the past three years, thanks to the massive investments telecommunications operators have made in new terrestrial and submarine cables. However, there is still a lot of hard work to be done before Internet services are accessible and affordable to every person on the continent.
That’s according to Mark Simpson, CEO of SEACOM, reflecting on the state of Africa’s Internet ahead of World Telecommunications Day on 17 May. He says that the telecommunications industry has broken many of the bottlenecks to affordable and ubiquitous broadband across the continent.
New submarine cables such as SEACOM have helped to boost the performance of the Internet in many African countries while driving costs down for the end user. SEACOM alone has seen more than 10-fold increases in bandwidth penetration in several of Africa’s most underserved nations, driven by drops in connectivity prices and increases in terrestrial coverage.
3G cellular network technologies have helped to boost connectivity speeds to the end user and new terrestrial networks have helped to extend connectivity from submarine cable landing points into African hinterland, once only covered by expensive satellite. Many challenges still remain, including extending the reach of the international cables into vast African territories that remain underserved, says Simpson.
In this regard, it is encouraging to see governments and private enterprise accelerate the rate of building of terrestrial infrastructure to link undersea cables and major cities across southern and east Africa, especially in Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya, he adds.
The next steps should see operators and governments step up investments in joining small and remote towns to the network. Simpson also stresses that African regulators and operators must focus as much on access networks as they are on submarine cables and backhaul connectivity to drive growth. This means that they need to ensure that frequency spectrum is available in a structured manner and regulatory hurdles to the deployment of new networks are removed.
Overall, however, the movements towards building the African Internet are extremely positive. “We are seeing a great deal of interest in leveraging broadband to drive economic growth among African regulators and policymakers. We are also seeing a great deal of innovation and partnerships from private business and the public sector in finding African solutions to African challenges,” says Simpson.
Though it will take several years to develop a fully integrated African Internet, we will see some enormous progress over the next 18 months, Simpson adds. “Broadband is changing lives throughout the continent, bringing with it health, education, financial and government services that help make people more prosperous, empowered and efficient,” concludes Simpson.
MORE INTERNET NEWS
AccessKenya in Kes 300m fibre investmentAccessKenya Group has completed the rollout of its metropolitan fibre network in key target areas around Nairobi and its environs. Read More
Malawi Internet costs drop with submarine connectivityMalawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) has said the country’s Internet access is now 50 percent cheaper than it was five years ago. Read More
Congo’s Université Marien Ngouabi launches websiteL’Université Marien Ngouabi, Congo Brazzaville’s oldest tertiary institution, launched its first website this week. Read More
Internet of Things – when problems can be hidden in a billion placesIn the Internet of Things era all things can be connected. But when billions of things are connected, there are also billions of points of contact to sift through to identify faults, says Riverbed. Read More
Internet.org business plan a “race to the bottom” - 2goPartnerships between African operators and Facebook’s Internet.org app that make certain content free to subscribers is a “race to the bottom” which will shrink long-term revenues and hurt local content providers, according to Marc Herson, COO of mobile social network 2go. Read More
Liquid Telecom to launch FTTH services in Kenya, RwandaLiquid Telecom has announced it will launch Fibre To The Home (FTTH) in Kenya, Rwanda and two other African countries early next year. Read More
Rwanda officially launches 4G LTE networkRwanda has officially launched its 4G LTE network, aiming to take access to 95% of citizens by 2017. Read More
Submarine cable to be built across South AtlanticAngola Cables has signed a contract with NEC Corporation to build the world’s first submarine cable system across the South Atlantic. Read More
Inquest into politician’s death turns to satellite imagesAn inquest into the death of an opposition politician has seen the parties involved toying with the idea of using satellite image experts. Read More
FEATURED STORYGSMA: half a billion mobile subscribers in SSA by 2020
The number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will pass the half billion mark in 2020, says a new GSMA report.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAfrica lags on digital migration
Only three African countries have so far completed the digital migration process, and serious issues are hampering the migration in other nations.
COMPANY NEWSLeading through volatility in Africa
For the businesses that are prepared to face the storm and manage the volatility afflicting the continent, there are still huge rewards to be had from doing business ...