Why demand for fibre is set to boom

The telecoms industry in South Afric is on the cusp of a fibre and mobile broadband boom, as network operators scramble to meet the demand for video, cloud applications and mobile solutions among consumers and businesses.

This is according to Suveer Ramdhani, chief development officer at Seacom, who said that the priority for the telecoms industry this year, should be to accelerate deployment of true broadband services so that African users can benefit from the full power of the Internet.

“In Africa, we have seen some progress in increasing Internet penetration, but the goalposts keep shifting. Many, perhaps even most, Internet connections on the continent are sub-1Mbs connections that do not meet the insatiable demand among businesses and consumers for fast and plentiful bandwidth,” Ramdhani said.

In Africa, one major factor driving demand for high-performance bandwidth, is a growing and youthful population that sees connectivity as a fundamental right, he said. For them, broadband spells access to educational, economic and social opportunities. Mobile broadband has an important role to play, but fibre-based fixed-line infrastructure is also vitally important in connecting mobile towers and giving users affordable last-mile access to high-speed services.

“Research from We Are Social indicates that 75% of web pages served to web browsers in South Africa are accessed from mobile devices,” said Ramdhani. “Across Africa, people spend most of their time online using mobile devices because of the world’s shift towards mobility and because it is the only affordable or available means of connecting to the Internet in many regions.”

Another factor is the rapid rise of video. Data from Cisco shows that video accounted for nearly 58% of data consumption in South Africa in 2015, which is expected to rise to 71% by 2020. Streaming video services such as Netflix and ShowMax will be a major reason for this growth, Ramdhani said.

In the business market, there is growing demand for cloud computing services such as those provided by Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce.com and a range of African service providers, he added. Many African organisations are embracing the cloud to fast-track modernisation of their IT infrastructures.

“With the trends towards higher video consumption and cloud computing, users will need to find their way back to a fixed-line connection,” said Ramdhani. “Mobile operators will need to look at their business models and decide whether they will evolve these models to capture all of our data spend or whether they will continue to provide relatively expensive services for niche mobile use.”


 Read: Seacom to add significant capacity in 2017

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Why demand for fibre is set to boom