Build a R3.3-billion broadband monument: ISPA

South Africa’s Internet Service Provider Association (ISPA) has urged the government to build a monument to the future by tripling its proposed R1.1 billion broadband investment, while also providing roll-out specifics.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene allocated R1.1 billion to the expansion of broadband connectivity in ‘government institutions and schools’ in his inaugural Budget Speech in February. There is currently no detail on how the government intends to roll out the network.

“The Finance Minister told us that Government plans to spend the equivalent of a New York penthouse on boosting broadband penetration this year,” said ISPA chair Graham Beneke.

“That’s not enough, especially when one considers that Government spent the equivalent of 30 New York penthouses on arms almost 20 years ago.”

ISPA called on Nene to spend the run-up to the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in October ironing out the details of the government’s “vague and insubstantial commitment to boosting South Africa’s broadband penetration”.

“Broadband is not a plaything for the well-off. Fast, affordable access to communication services and the Internet is becoming a utility, as important for South Africa to function as water and power.”

Government is eyeing 100% broadband connectivity by 2020. ISPA said that if the government wants to get involved in establishing broadband networks, then it would like to ensure this was done on an open access basis.

“Broadband infrastructure investments rolled-out by Telkom should become leasable by other ISPs via Telkom’s wholesale division. This would ensure that broadband penetration is evened out and all industry players have an opportunity to expand SA’s broadband network.”

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Build a R3.3-billion broadband monument: ISPA