LTE still a product for the “haves”: Broadband Infraco

While South African operators clamour to roll out LTE infrastructure, Broadband Infraco CEO Puleng Kwele says, for now, it remains a product for the “haves”.

Speaking at an event in Sandton on Thursday evening (18 July), Kwele, who took the reins of the state owned company in April 2012, said: “LTE is a product of the haves and the have nots shall continue to suffer.”

Kwele conceded that the private sector was doing “very well” in rolling out LTE, which she said would form a critical part of the local telco landscape in future – driven by wireless.

However, she also pointed out that operators still had a vast amount of users on their 2G networks.

Vodacom, MTN, and Telkom Mobile have all launched a commercial LTE service, with Cell C expected to launch its service soon having already trialed 100 base stations.

The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, released in June, revealed that 60% of the world’s population is due to be covered by Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in 2018, with subscriptions set to exceed one billion in 2017, and 2 billion in 2018.

In May, Juniper Research reported that the cumulative 4G LTE mobile broadband service revenues over the next five years will account for over $1 trillion.

That would represent approximately 17% of the cumulative operator billed service revenue from all mobile services, it said.

Spectrum

Kwele said that the availability spectrum in the country remains an issue, and called on the new minister of communications Yunus Carrim, to “talk about it”.

Operators continue to plead with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to release valuable spectrum in order to improve their networks.

Kwele also called on operators to look outside of the major metropolitan areas when laying fibre.

“It’s time they build in other places other than the addressable markets. They have reaped the benefits for years,” Kwele said.

“We have everyone building in the same places in areas that area already served, while the digital divide is increasing,” the chief executive said.

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LTE still a product for the “haves”: Broadband Infraco