What is broadband in South Africa?

A version of the reviewed broadband policy will be coming at the end of November 2013, which will include a new definition for “broadband”, according to minister of communications, Yunus Carrim.

Addressing an audience at the New Age Business Briefing this week (30 September), Carrim said that the department “[has] begun to revamp the policy – we brought in some experts – [and] we’re seeking to get a version of it out by the end of November.”

The broadband policy, subject to a number of talk-shops, colloquiums and indabas over the past few years – predominantly driven by controversial former minister of communications Dina Pule – has yielded little else but talk.

While Carrim provided scant details, he indicated that the department had made a “quite a few changes” to the broadband policy.

Amongst the changes, Carrim read out a reviewed definition of broadband, as written “by the experts” straight from the policy:

Broadband: always-on connectivity, where the user can access the most demanding interactive content to meet their needs in real time.

It’s enabled by a high-end ICT platform with the potential to enhance the variety, utility and value of services and applications offered by a wide range of providers to the benefit of diverse users and communities across all sectors of the economy.

Carrim said that, accompanying the definition, there will be a minimum definition of speed in megabytes per second (Mbps) given, and targets will be set for institutions to meet the requirements.

Carrim also added that Icasa releasing spectrum in the 800Mhz and 2.6Ghz bands was also on the way.

The minister said further that he had met with over 150 individuals and organisations over the past few months, to get everyone on board with the department’s overall strategy.

“As government, we cannot do this alone,” he said, but noted that the time for “endless populism” is over.

“We need your help…but we’re not going to have endless discussions. We can consult, but ultimately government must govern,” Carrim said.

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What is broadband in South Africa?