Broadband in SA: not a good story to tell

The impact of the ANC government’s dismal performance in the communications space is clearly illustrated by the OECD’s latest broadband figures

By - July 23, 2014
ANC Internet hinderance

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released its latest broadband subscription data on 22 July 2014, which shows that South Africa’s fixed broadband performance is pathetic.

Fixed-line broadband subscriptions in the OECD area reached 339 million – up from 332.6 million in June 2013 – translating to an average penetration rate of 27%.

Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Denmark remained at the top of the league table with 44.9%, 40.4%, and 40.0% respectively.

DSL is still the prevalent technology, making up 51.5% of fixed subscriptions, but it continues to be gradually replaced by fibre, now at 16.7% of the total. Cable (31.2%) made up most of the rest.

“Double-digit annual growth in the ratio of fibre in total fixed broadband was sustained due to large increases in countries such as France, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom,” the OECD said.

“Japan and Korea remain the OECD leaders with fibre making up 69.9% and 64.6% of fixed connections.”

South Africa, in comparison, has a fixed broadband penetration rate of 2.1%, well below any OECD country. Fibre connectivity is also not available in most areas in the country.

Global fixed broadband penetration rates

Global fixed broadband penetration rates

Broadband growth from 2003

The OECD also released historical broadband penetration rates, tracking fixed broadband growth in its member countries.

The following graph shows just how poorly South Africa’s fixed broadband growth compares to other countries.

Fixed broadband penetration rate growth

Fixed broadband penetration rate growth

Not a good story to tell

New Minister of Telecommunications for South Africa, Siyabonga Cwele, recently talked up government’s role in building South Africa’s telecommunications sector.

However, the figures in this article clearly illustrate the negative impact which government’s poor performance in the telecommunications market has had on the country’s fixed broadband performance.

More on government’s telecoms claims

It wasn’t apartheid which hurt SA’s Internet, it was the ANC government

How the ANC nearly killed Vodacom, MTN

We want transparent prices: Cwele

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