Alpheus Mangale GM Cisco SA Q&A

BusinessTech quizzes Cisco South Africa GM, Alpheus Mangale on the impact of increased data on networks, and the companies role in the provision of broadband for all in SA.

With the changing habits of mobile data use to include video over mobile networks, can South African networks handle this exponential rise in data traffic?

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011 to 2016, the company’s ongoing initiative to forecast and analyze Internet Protocol (IP) networking growth and trends worldwide, South Africa, mobile data traffic will grow 49-fold from 2011 to 2016, resulting in a compound annual growth rate of 118%.

The onus will be on Service Providers and network operators to ensure that networks in South Africa will be able handle this exponential growth.

LTE, for example, provides sufficient bandwidth to carry voice, video and data on a single radio network. With deployments already accelerating around the world, mobile operators are transitioning from circuit switch voice (GSM/CDMA) toward an all IP SIP-based architecture (IMS) over LTE, supporting high-bandwidth multimedia and real-time applications.

Providers will have to enable a foundational set of enterprise-class voice, video, or messaging features via the network while enriching and unifying those experiences with a soft client or mobile browser.

As businesses demand more collaboration over video and social enterprise applications, the support provided by these new 4G LTE networks will increase the quality of communications and collaboration.

Are we seeing a subtle shift from Cisco, from PC to mobile? Can we expect this from the group moving forward?

According to the 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR) launched in November 2012, smartphones now rival laptops as the single most desired device by 18-30 year olds as they are seen as the most versatile and compact.

The results for were based on a survey commissioned by Cisco of 1,800 university students and young professionals aged 18 to 30 across 18 countries including South Africa and highlighted that:

  • If they had to choose only one device, 28% of South African respondents preferred a smartphone, while thirty-five percent favoured a laptop.
  • Tablets are not far behind: 24% of South African respondents would choose a tablet.
  • Only 11% of the South African respondents favoured desktop computers.

Cisco Systems plans to build small cellular base stations, building upon its fast-growing business in WiFi base stations for mobile operator networks – Can we expect this in SA? 

With the exception of smartphones, WiFi is now the predominant access technology for mobile devices. There has also been an increase in ‘nomadic’ devices like laptops, tablets, and eReaders that almost exclusively connect to the Internet through WiFi.

Cisco’s goal continues to be to work with Service Providers to help them implement the right strategize in order to capture Wi-Fi opportunities in South Africa.

Service Providers will need to undertake a number of initiatives in order to capture this market opportunity including:

  • Offering free public WiFi access with a home broadband subscription. In South Africa, hotspot visitors still usually have to pay to surf, and while some hotspots offer free access, the service is still often erratic because they have to find ways to manage the high bandwidth cost.
  • Iincorporating WiFi as an integral part of their portfolio utilizing pricing, marketing, and new technological solutions to create compelling and integrated offers and solutions of value to mobile users.
  • Creating solutions and incentives to encourage users to offload mobile traffic at home, while retaining the ability to provide a unique and differentiated customer experience.
  • Align network architectures and deploy appropriate technologies to deliver a seamless, integrated mobile WiFi user experience. As demand for mobile devices and network connectivity continues to grow in South Africa, both WiFi and traditional mobile networks will be critical to meeting the needs of mobility-enabled consumers.

Q) What is holding back the adoption of Broadband in SA and what role can Cisco play in this area to speed up the current process? 

In an era of severely constrained financial resources, public policymakers in developing countries, including South Africa, face many choices about the best infrastructure projects in which to invest, as only a limited number of initiatives can be funded.

That said, the benefits of improved broadband penetration, which was 15.8% at the end of 2012, are easy to identify as they include enablement of Internet-based tools and databases, quicker information exchange, and improved productivity.

In order to help policy makers and governments maximize the value of broadband investments, the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) is working with them to develop strategies for prioritising which geographic and sectorial areas and applications of broadband will yield the greatest economic return.

One of the most important steps government and business leaders in both developed and developing nations can take to encourage social and economic transformation is to focus on delivering universal broadband access.

Cisco is working closely with government (Ministry of Communications) to help facilitate accelerate broadband roll out to connect schools, hospitals and the entire unconnected community. Public and private partnerships need to be enabled to accelerate the broadband roll out in the country and Cisco will play pivotal role in these PPP models.

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Alpheus Mangale GM Cisco SA Q&A