Lack of adequate ADSL services in South Africa has led to local 3G networks being far better than those in the US, Alan Knott-Craig Jr. said at the inaugural TV Show Africa conference in Sandton on Tuesday (31 May 2011).
South African mobile operators are able to leapfrog older technologies and do the latest and greatest stuff in GSM because many don’t have ADSL, Knott-Craig said.
Speaking to the delegates at the conference, Knott-Craig Junior explained that there are three obstacles to rich content distribution over broadband:
- Undersea capacity,
- in-land transmission, and
- “last mile” access, including the device.
All of these challenges have been, or are being addressed, Knott-Craig Junior said.
Undersea capacity is something South Africa now has in spades with the landing of the SEACOM, WACS, and EASSy cable systems, with more on the way in the form of ACE, and SAex.
Knott-Craig Junior said that at least two companies are rolling out in-land transmission networks in East and Southern Africa, leaving the last mile, or local loop, as the final hurdle. Mobile operators are taking care of the last mile in South Africa, Knott-Craig Junior said.
However, most mobile data connections cost more than wired Internet, especially when larger amounts of bandwidth are needed. Knott-Craig also said that mobile operators in South Africa are using their voice profits to subsidise data losses.
Asked about whether wireless broadband prices would be able to compete with those of wire-line, Knott-Craig Junior said that in five years wireless data prices in SA will be as low as wireline data prices are overseas right now.
“Wireless is Africa’s only hope for the last mile, and may well become the last mile choice for personal use throughout the world,” Knott-Craig said in the write-up that accompanied his presentation.